SK: The much-anticipated Pakistani edition of Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times, which was published in the UK by Libredux Publishing last year, has just been released as of yesterday (16 August 2016). Below is Khurram Shafique’s announcement email: My dear friends, Please allow me to write this email on a personal note, and speak straight
With sadness I note the passing away of Dr. Javid Iqbal today in Lahore, at the age of 91. He was a one-time senior justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and, like his legendary father Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, he was also a philosopher. On a personal note he sent me some kind words on SJ2 a few years ago. My
Libredux Publishing is pleased to announce a brand new title: Khurram Ali Shafique’s book, Waheed Murad: His Life and Our Times, which went into print yesterday (16 September 2015) and is already available at Amazon’s US and UK sites. It’s the second title in a series of three titled Visionaries for Our Times. (The first of the series was Libredux’s
SK: Following are the opening paragraphs from the second of a two-part article written by Rory Mackay for the VFA. Reblogged here for what it says about the purpose of story. For the full post and direct link to the first part, please visit the VFA site here. We tell stories for a reason Mythology, which is storytelling
We know that all visionary fiction is a form of social commentary, but is it also true the other way round? My latest article for the VFA explores this question, with a special focus on a writer who is also promoting a form of visionary fiction. For the full article, click the link. – SK Science fiction
1) The Original Conspiracy
The legend goes that human history is the record of an eternal battle between the Order of the Selfish Ones, and the Order of the Truth Seekers. Through the ages many Truth Seekers have embarked on the quest to unlock humanity’s true potential. But the Selfish Ones have slandered them, murdered them, and rewritten history, all to make humanity forget and stop believing.
- Systems, p.337
2) The Two Nation Theory
The Quran does not recognise the concept of majorities and minorities. It teaches that all humans are born equal on the basis of their having a common origin (4:1). It teaches that a true democracy rests not on the principle of simple majority rule (6:116) but rather on the principle of consensus (aiming for unanimity) by ‘mutual consultation’ (42:38). It also teaches that humans only differ by the type of deen [total civilisation: religion, politics, culture] that they follow; and that strictly speaking there are only two types of human society: one that lives by the universal spiritual principles of liberty, justice and solidarity, and the other that does not (5:56-7). This is the Quranic basis of the Two-Nation Theory. It has nothing to do with communalism, and everything to do with the active behaviour of a society that claims to be ‘good’. (2:148)
- Secular Jinnah & Pakistan, p.203 (Yes, I did consciously sneak the Cohesive Ethics Theorem into that passage at the time of writing the book.)
What we forgot
The above passages from my two books are basically talking about the came thing. I was recently having a conversation with a friend by email and something that came up there compelled me to write this post. These remarks from my email get straight to the point of what I want to share here:
“As an aside, you know the term “Original Conspiracy” of Systems is a corruption of the Christian [term] “Original Sin”, and that in any case the former [term] clears up the truth about the implications of the Adam story, aka the Two Nation Theory? And it also helps explain what Satan is – namely, the so-called dark side of free will, the selfish gene, human pride and arrogance, or intellect minus “love”? He is the original “other”, the bringer of the second choice, separation, and disagreement. … [The consensus/nationality principles] are timeless and have been taken up before … The Quran tells us that we have adopted them and forgotten them many times. “Satan has overcome them and made them forget the remembrance of Allah” (58:19). My “Conspiracy” is inspired from this idea of rewritten and forgotten history.”
The broad “implications of Adam’s story” (the Fall) mentioned in that email is what Systems is all about; and an individual historical case study of the Two Nation Theory is what SJ2 is all about. We are taught to believe that human potential has never been unlocked, that there has never been an ideal society – and that in fact it’s impossible anyway. Is this all really true, or have there just been enough slanders, murders and rewrites of history to make us forget?
“Some would say that what I have suggested is utopian, and moreover impossible. This is not so. As I see it, humanity cannot realise its true potential until we accept that an ideal society is not only possible, but absolutely mandatory.”
So says Prof. Hanif Omar in Systems. But does anyone share his belief in real life?
Words from a Truth Seeker
These are the words of MA Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, in Chittagong in 1948.
“It is natural for some to think only in terms of Government, but the sooner we realise and adjust ourselves to new forces, the sooner our mind’s eye is capable of piercing through the horizons to see the limitless possibilities of our State and our Nation, the better for Pakistan. Then and then alone it would be possible for each one of us to realise the great ideals of human progress, of social justice, of equality and of fraternity, which, on the one hand, constitute the basic causes of the birth of Pakistan and also the limitless possibilities of evolving an ideal social structure of our State. I reiterate most emphatically that Pakistan was made possible because of the danger of complete annihilation of the human soul in a society based on caste. Now that the soul is free to exist and to aspire, it must assert itself, galvanizing not only the State but also the Nation.”
My brother recently pointed out to me that with the publication of Khurram Ali Shafique’s Iqbal: His Life and Our Times, I can now claim to have covered three great Muslim personalities of the last century: Jinnah, Iqbal and Parwez. This was something that had never crossed my mind before.
Jinnah and Iqbal rank among the most important figures for Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, while Parwez has had an enormous impact that has yet to be appreciated whether among academia or in the public eye. For myself personally however, the fact that I have had the good fortune to cover these particular three is especially significant. Have a look at the three men in turn, and I hope you’ll see what I mean.
First, each respectively represents one of the three Cohesive Ethics principles. Visiting them in chronological order of my publications:
My earliest writing work was the translation of my father’s Quran aur Pakistan, which was a book containing his poetry and a compilation of various writings from G.A. Parwez’s work. One of the chapters from this book was a reproduction of a pamphlet of Parwez on Jinnah that I eventually published many years later. And of course, my work on this pamphlet also led directly to my work on Jinnah.
Parwez was a prolific writer, but arguably his most important contribution as a scholar was his 1955 book Nizam-i-Rabbubiyyat (System of Divine Sustenance), an economic treatise that took a holistic and groundbreaking view of Quranic terms normally identified with capital interest and religious charity. My father and I have translated this book under the title The Qur’anic System of Sustenance. Parwez’s strong emphasis on social justice and criticism of capitalism in that book has led even some of his supporters to wrongly think he was a closet communist – despite the fact that he described communism as “a grave danger to humanity” and went to great lengths to reveal the stark differences between materialist communism and his Quran-inspired work. In any case, Parwez’s work in this field makes him an unequivocal representative of the justice principle.
My first full book was on M.A. Jinnah, and so was its better known sequel, Secular Jinnah & Pakistan.
Jinnah represents the unity principle. No, he practically personifies it. He was dubbed the “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity” in his early political career; and later, both as the leader of the Pakistan independence movement and as the founding father of the country, “unity” remained his watchword both for “Muslim unity” and for a Pakistani nationality that encompassed its multicultural population. The Pakistani national motto “Faith, Unity, Discipline” was coined by Jinnah during the Pakistan movement. The word “unity” turns up countless times in his speeches and statements and is probably the word that he used more than any other.
I wrote a full chapter on M. Iqbal in Secular Jinnah & Pakistan on the crux of his philosophy. My imprint Libredux Publishing has also published two books on his philosophy: 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen and Iqbal: His Life and Our Times. Iqbal’s references to the three principles of “equality, solidarity and freedom” are of course the “muse” of the Cohesive Ethics Theorem in Systems.
Iqbal undoubtedly represents the liberty principle owing to his emphasis on human will and action, and his calls for a “reconstruction of religious thought in Islam” in the famous lectures of the same name. He wanted Muslims to revive the long-abandoned practice of ijtihad (lit. “strive”), which amounts to freeing the Muslim community from the shackles of tradition so it can learn to actively adapt with the needs of its time. He dedicated his fifth lecture solely to this topic, describing ijtihad as the “principle of movement”.
Second, these men have some striking similarities with the characters from Systems who also represent the same respective principles.
Parwez and the Peace Man
Though they are worlds apart, Parwez and Peter Manner (the Peace Man) have some uncanny parallels. Both are lone warriors. Both possess keen insight into the failings of humanity, and its potential. In his writings Parwez calls for a revolution against the three forms of tyranny mentioned in the Quran, while Peter is on a crusade against an unnamed “them” – that is, E3, who represent the same three evils.
Both are totally committed to the idea of total justice, though Peter takes it to the extreme: He kills one “worthless” criminal for every friend he has lost in his previous life, and returns every single penny he has taken from the innocent people he robs. Parwez’s work on economics, despite not being nearly as dramatic in practice, is nevertheless driven by a similar level of conviction in the possibility of absolute justice. (And incidentally, Peter’s past life incarnation was also an economist). Both Parwez and Peter are absolutely determined to see their causes through, irrespective of how others may respond to them. Parwez’s sheer tenacity and courage easily match Peter’s, as he was more forthright in his calls for religious reformation than even Iqbal, literally risking his life in upholding his views in a hostile religious environment.
Iqbal and the Shaman
The strange similarities between Iqbal and Hitoshi Katayama are too numerous to list in full. Iqbal’s poetical inspirations from Revelation include David (The Persian Psalms) and Adam (in various works including Javid Nama), the namesakes of the twins who are tied to Hitoshi (also known as the Shaman in Systems). Both Iqbal and Hitoshi are poets, and both possess musical talent. Both have complex, larger-than-life personalities. Some of the things they say are incorrectly interpreted as being esoteric. Both are frequently accused of ambivalence and contradiction – though this accusation is more justified in Hitoshi’s case – and both are aware of, and comfortable with, being a mystery to others.
Each of the two also fulfils his “destiny” in an apparently ironic way – Iqbal through his choice of the seemingly “secular” Jinnah to lead the Muslims of India, and Hitoshi through his decision to destroy the only proof that the Systems Experiment was a success. This reveals how they each symbolise the conflicting nature of the liberty principle. Both also acknowledge their dark sides, though in different ways: “I have a certain amount of admiration for the Devil,” says Iqbal, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in his first English-language lecture in 1908. Hitoshi would definitely return that remark with his characteristically devilish smile. Indeed, an early edit of Hitoshi’s song This is my Fate in the novel contained the lyrics “blessed in the Devil’s light”.
Jinnah and Agent Numbskull
Jinnah and Aaron Lloyd (named after the Prophet who also represents unity) both uphold the unity principle in precisely the same way, through a shared sense of inclusiveness. Aaron asks Hitoshi to join forces with him to try and defeat their common enemy, even after learning the truth about Hitoshi’s background. Similarly Jinnah asked Muslim religious and political leaders alike to set aside their differences in order to rally around a common goal, though he was well aware of their shortcomings.
Jinnah also shares what Hitoshi rudely calls the “numbskull” trait with Aaron – that is, both Aaron and Jinnah come across as cold and unreadable, one by virtue of a cranial chip, the other by his behaviour. Yet in fact both are deeply compassionate underneath the surface, and are really using the system to fight the system. Jinnah uses his British training in constitutional law to fight against the British Raj, while Aaron is an agent working for, and secretly fighting against, the very organisation responsible for killing his father and destroying his legacy. And on that note, both Jinnah and Aaron stand against benevolent dictatorships.
Finally, a disclaimer.
The connections between these three makers of history and the three leading men from Systems are remarkable, but by no means were any of the fictional characters consciously (or unconsciously) inspired by the historical figures. However, one of the three men did directly inspire another character in Systems, namely the eccentric professor Dr. Hanif Omar, the man behind the Cohesive Ethics Theorem and the Systems Experiment.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which one it was.
If you can think of any other links between the three men and the characters that I have failed to mention, please let me know here in the comments.
Below is a reproduction – with permission – of the first lesson of the present course (Creating with the Soul) at the Marghdeen Learning Centre. It’s such a brilliant and interesting take on Jinnah’s legacy that I positively had to share it here. [Images are taken from the original article as it appeared.]
On a separate note, both my books Systems and Secular Jinnah & Pakistan are part of the recommended reading for this particular course, which is about the destinies of nations starting with the Pakistan idea.
Enjoy! – SK
1.1 How to choose your destiny
Welcome to the new online course, and please allow me to start it without any further preludes :). So, there are three variables involved in each one of us choosing our destiny. They are: (a) the current of history; (b) the destiny of society; and (c) the will of the individual himself or herself.
This is because the current of history, which is always evolutionary, moderates the destiny of each society. The destiny of each society generates a menu of choices from which every individual can pick. Please allow me to explain this with an example.
Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah had become one of the least influential political figures by 1932. He was a particularly unlucky man. Each time he achieved something big, it would be taken away from him. In 1916, he was hailed as “the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”, but three years later he was being hooted down by Hindus and Muslims alike. He married for love in 1918, but it turned sour and ended in the separation and death of his wife in less than ten years.
By 1932, his public career seemed to have ended. He had left his homeland, and had taken abode in England. He was not even invited to the Third Round Table Conference of the Indian leaders held in London that year.
Fifty-six years old and not growing any younger, Barrister Jinnah was suffering at the hands of destiny. So, he decided to ask God for a new one. But how?
First, he looked up the destiny of his nation. Their “final destiny”, as recently revealed by Iqbal, was a consolidated Muslim state.
With this understanding, Jinnah picked up a new role for himself. It was to be the founder of that state. He got it.
Hence, understanding the destiny of his nation empowered him to choose his own destiny. From being one of the least significant leaders in 1932, he became “the Great Leader” by 1938 and the founder of the largest Islamic state and the fifth largest of the world in 1947, so that posterity was eventually going to say:
Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.
Jinnah was not the only one in the 1930s to be attempting stuff like altering the course of history, etc. Just as he became the “Quaid-i-Azam” of his people, Mussolini was “Il Duce” in Italy and Hitler was the “Fuehrer” in Germany (all titles approximately meaning the same thing). Yet, Jinnah alone made it to the finish. We need to understand this a bit more.
By the time Jinnah achieved his goal, Italians had executed Mussolini and hung his corpse upside down. Hitler had shot himself and to follow his ideology is now a criminal offence in his country. The legacy of Jinnah, on the other hand, is not only cherished by his own people but his name and his worldview is something which they show off to other nations in a bid for gaining more respect.
Apparently, this is because while other “great leaders” focused only on the interests of their own nations, Jinnah aligned his patriotic ambition with the principles commonly respected by humanity in those days. In addition to the spirit and destiny of his own nation, he also kept in mind the trends of modern times.
This is the third variable, i.e. the current of world history, but that is a theme for the next lesson. Before proceeding, let’s conclude what we observed today.
We fail to be in control of our destinies because we are taught that societies do not have destinies as such. Due to this presumption, we obviously do not attempt to gain any insight into the destiny of our society, and hence fail to meet the prerequisite for taking control of our own futures as individuals.
- What is one thing which you would like to gain from this course? Since this is the first lesson, please formulate a personal objective. It is recommended that you keep it to 100 words, but please use your discretion. Keep it specific and to the point. Please do not mind if I remove your comment from the blog this time, in case I feel that you can do better (and in that case I shall personally email you about to re-write it).
- Please reply to some of the comments posted by others. It is important to interact. Every learner gains more if everybody in the course is engaged. It’s a virtual classroom, so let it be a “commonly adopted goal” that everybody is involved, probed for their input and learning together in a vibrant and lively atmosphere.
This time, I am more excited than usual to see what replies come forth. Please begin!
SK: The Marghdeen Learning Centre is an educational subsidiary body of Iqbal Academy that offers online courses on Iqbal’s philosophy. To learn more, and to sign up, visit www.marghdeen.com
Today is your last chance to get 15% off Khurram Ali Shafique’s new book, Iqbal: His Life and Our Times. Order directly from this page (https://www.createspace.com/4780451) and use the code in red at checkout to qualify. Offer ends tonight at 8 p.m. (British time).
(Reproduced with minor edits from my mailing list message dated today, 5 May 2014). Pass it on!
As an update to my previous message, the UK/US edition of Iqbal: His Life and Our Times is due for release on Thursday 8 May at 8 p.m. British time. If you purchase a copy directly from CreateSpace in the first 72 hours, you will get a discount of 15% off the price (follow the instructions on that page). This discount applies to the US price but you will save money even if you are purchasing from outside the US (including but not exclusively Canada, Australia, UK and elsewhere in Europe). Don’t miss out!
The general edition will be released in Pakistan soon – date to be confirmed. If you would like updates on the Pakistani release, let me know and I’ll put you on a temporary mailing list for the purpose.
In the meantime, below is the introduction to the book by the directors of the Iqbal Academy and the ECO Cultural Institute, as taken from the author’s (Khurram Ali Shafique) mailing list and blog at the Marghdeen Learning Centre.
All the Best, & Take Care Folks,
Muhammad Suheyl Umar, Director, Iqbal Academy Pakistan;
and Iftikhar Arif, Director, ECO Cultural Institute (ECI)
Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) is the only poet and thinker in the history of world literature who has been credited with the birth of a new nation and a new state. It is therefore very befitting that a handbook about his life and thought should be brought out by an organization comprising of ten member states. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI) is pleased to bring out this publication jointly with Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
In addition to his unique status in Pakistan, Iqbal also happens to be either a national poet or a household inspiration in several other countries including Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and India. In Turkey, his symbolic grave stands in the compound of the mausoleum of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. In the universities of Heidelberg and Cambridge, there are chairs or fellowships in his name. Roads, buildings and monuments have been named after him in other countries too, including Mauritius.
Iqbal: His Life and Our Times fulfils the need for a simple and reliable introduction to the life and work of this unmatched genius, highlighting the practical relevance of his ideas for those who wish to consider them for implementation. The author, Khurram Ali Shafique, is well-known in the field of Iqbal Studies. The awards which he has received for his previous publications include the coveted Presidential Iqbal Award.
The present volume includes many findings that are the outcome of the author’s original research. Of special interest to the general readers as well as the experts would be the evidence, presented here for the first time, which establishes a historical connection between the political ideas of Iqbal, the American thinker Mary Parker Follett and the Bengali visionary C. R. Das.
We are hoping that this volume will offer much by way of looking at the present times from new avenues.
- It is shown here that the views expressed by Iqbal in his poetry and prose formed a coherent system of thought, and the same was implemented by him through political and social action. This is to dispel the myth which has been preventing a deeper understanding of Iqbal’s thought until now, i.e. the false but widely perpetuated assumption that the ideas presented by Iqbal were either inconsistent with each other or they kept undergoing such perpetual changes throughout his life that they cannot be considered for implementation in any other time.
- The system of his thought and its underlying principles are being presented here, perhaps for the first time. It is also being shown that in spite of its inner coherence, the system of Iqbal’s thought kept pace with the evolution of the collective life of his community.
- This evolution can be studied by dividing the intellectual life of the poet-philosopher into three stages: inquiry, discovery and transcendence. The duration of each stage has been established here on the basis of biographical and textual evidence, and the book has been divided into three chapters accordingly.
- Each of these three stages started in his mental life when his community adopted a new goal collectively. The goals, their relevance to the world and humanity, their implications for Iqbal, and his contribution towards achieving them are issues which are being discussed here in a fresh light. This may turn out be one of the most significant contributions which this book will make to the subject.
If the nations of the world desire to come closer in their hearts and minds, they cannot ignore to learn about the ideas, emotions and visions of each other. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI), formed through a charter at the third summit meeting of the countries of ECO held at Islamabad in 1995, aims at fostering understanding and the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of its members through common projects in the fields of media, literature, art, philosophy, sport and education.
The present volume is being offered in line with this vision, and with the conviction that it is important for everybody to be informed about the ideas of Iqbal, since they may be counted among those cultural forces which have gone into shaping a significant part of our world.
This conviction is shared by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, a statutory body of the Government of Pakistan, originally established through an act of parliament in 1951 and reinforced through an ordinance in 1962. The aims and objectives of the Academy are to promote and disseminate the study and understanding of the works and teachings of Iqbal. The Academy has been translating its objectives into action and activity through a number of measures including publication programme, IT projects, outreach activities, Iqbal Award Programme, website, research and compilation, audio-video, multimedia, archive projects as well as exhibitions, conferences, seminars, projection abroad, research guidance, academic assistance, donations and library services.
We hope that the readers will benefit from the book which we are offering here jointly, and this will go a long way in achieving our common objectives.
Posted By Khurram Ali Shafique to Marghdeen at 5/05/2014 04:52:00 AM
(Reproduced with minor edits from my mailing list message dated today 21 April 2014). Feel free to pass it on!
It’s been a while since I last sent out a message to this list, and to many of my friends, I have been completely out of touch for a long time (for reasons that are not important here). For that I apologise.
Today is the anniversary of Iqbal’s death, an annual day of remembering the poet-philosopher’s message and what it means not only for people in the Indian subcontinent but also humanity as a whole. Iqbal has been simultaneously been celebrated and misunderstood since the time he was alive, and numerous biographies have been written on him. I’m pleased to announce the imminent release of a new biography on Iqbal, of which Libredux Publishing is printing the UK/US edition.
But this book is unlike the standard biographies on Iqbal. For a start, its author is Khurram Ali Shafique, who is known by most of you as the man behind the Marghdeen Learning Centre, and whose previous biography on Iqbal won him the Presidential Iqbal Award. But to really explain why this book is different, I can do no better than to reproduce its blurb:
This was the unparalleled legacy of the poet-philosopher credited with birthing a nation and a state, and at no other time has the world been more ready to embrace his ideas than it is right now.
The story of his mind, and what he taught, as told herein from a new and compelling angle, leads us on a trail of discovery towards a new way of life. You’re invited to approach this as a handbook for implementing his life-giving ideas.
Written by a foremost authority on the subject, this is a tribute to Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) by ten sovereign states: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization, whose Cultural Institute (ECI) has published this book jointly with Iqbal Academy Pakistan.
Postscript 26/Apr/2014 * Since the time of writing this, the line has been changed from The Splendour of Taj Mahal to The Message of the Quran.
At the latest Marghdeen Learning Centre course (Thinking with the Soul) last week, the present (seventh) lesson is titled “Completion”. It’s focusing on this Iqbalian concept, summarized in the introduction of the lesson as follows:
The ultimate aim of the ego is not to see something, but to be something. In this effort, it develops the ambition to come into direct contact with the Ultimate Reality. One who stands unshaken in the Divine Presence is the one about whom it could be said that the person has achieved completion – by acquiring a more precise definition of one’s self, ‘which deepens the whole being of the ego, and sharpens its will with the creative assurance that the world is not something to be merely seen or known through concepts, but something to be made and re-made by continuous action’. Still, the journey doesn’t end, as life is one and continuous.
Put in Iqbal’s own words: “the world is not something to be merely seen or known through concepts, but something to be made and re-made by continuous action”.
The task for the lesson was to answer this “simple question”: Is that how you are feeling at the end of this lesson? Why, or why not?
Every participant was expected to post his/her answer at the MLC forum (a blog set up as the online venue for the course).
One of the participants, Abdul Aziz Khan, posted this brilliant reply (emphasis mine):
This last lesson is deep enough to be a course of its own. The idea discussed here can be expanded into so many realms, with so many repercussions that a total (and ongoing) reconstruction would be needed, not just of religious thought but legal, social and ethical principles. It calls for a constant breakdown and re-invention of everything until we reach “somewhere.” That “somewhere” is so big and so powerful that no ideology, philosophy or religious interpretation has been able to even give a name to it. Thus (for the sake of this discussion) let it remain un-named.
What are my own feelings?
a) A distrust in inherited morals and cultural perceptions of right and wrong.
b) A distrust in reason for I am convinced that reason can only piece together data from five senses. Yet this course convinced me of something that I already knew all along. I am bigger than what I see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
c) Desire for an anarchy that I could call my own. No one else needs to own it for it will have no use for national labels and cultural insignia. It will be the start of a first step towards “somewhere” and the guiding principles for those steps are not to be understood. They lie above understanding as understanding itself is a rational sort of a thing.
This post almost perfectly describes the meaning of a line straight off the wall in the Peace Man’s room in Systems:
The Truth has no name.
The Marghdeen Learning Centre is an Iqbal Academy subsidiary body teaching the philosophy of Iqbal in straightforward terms. Anyone who enrolls at certain Marghdeen Learning Centre courses (including The Wisdom of Moses and Thinking with the Soul) courses gets an ebook copy of Systems for free in any format.
Note: Second part of the Systems excerpt. Somewhere in an imaginary world, today marks the death of the first generation of characters from my novel, Systems. Also (really a note to self), the header image from the original colour scheme of this blog has been restored, but I’m keeping the current colour scheme otherwise.
First part of the excerpt is here. Enjoy! – SK
From Systems, Chapter Eleven (Leon’s Promise)
16 January 2014, St Mary’s Cathedral
‘G-get out of here!’
Leon scrambled to his feet. He turned to David lying a few feet away from him, in front of the central arch, grimacing in pain and holding his abdomen. David had taken the bullet intended for him. Joanna was kneeling by her fiancé’s side, sobbing hysterically.
‘Now!’ yelled David.
Another bullet flew past with a sharp crack, and hit one of the stone columns supporting the arch behind them.
The sound jolted Joanna. She tore herself away from David with a futile cry and ran as fast as she could to her car, parked some fifty metres away. She had to pass the fountain to get to it. Adam got a clean view of her, and took aim.
Gasping in panic, Leon remembered the pistol he’d brought along with him for protection and took it out of his inner coat pocket. Hastily he aimed at Adam and fired. The gun gave out a thunderous report and the recoil jerked his arm. He missed by a couple of metres. Adam flinched, and then grinned.
Leon’s attempt however had granted Joanna a few valuable seconds, and she reached her car. Adam aimed at her again and fired. The bullet bounced off the roof of the car, missing her by a mere few inches. She screamed and quickly got in.
Adam stepped backward and waved two men forward as he and a partner headed back to his own vehicle.
‘Take care of them!’ he ordered as he got in.
Joanna had already set off down the road. She was fifteen or twenty seconds ahead by the time he gave chase.
More bullets came at Leon and David from behind the fountain. The shooters used the statues in the centre as cover. Leon shot a couple of rounds randomly in their direction, and then ran to David and helped him up. Together they hobbled up three or four steps and into the relative safety of the colonnade.
Still clutching his abdomen, David put his back against one of the pillars and slid to the ground, breathing heavily.
‘Drop your weapons and surrender!’ shouted one of the men.
‘Never!’ bellowed an enraged Leon.
He poked his head out from behind the pillar and took another
shot. They returned fire, and he pulled back in.
‘Leon!’ said David, his voice strained and desperate. ‘You go! Leave … me here!’
Leon stared wildly at him. ‘I won’t! You’re coming with me!’
‘You … h … have to save Jo! And the data …’ He took a DVD case out of his pocket and pressed it into Leon’s hand. ‘I didn’t give it to her. I-it’s up to you now.’
David’s expression said it all. The plan was coming apart, but giving up wasn’t an option. Tears came to Leon’s eyes and he put the box in his pocket.
‘I promise I’ll protect the data,’ he said, choking with emotion, ‘whatever it takes.’
‘You’d … better! I’ll c-cover you,’ said David with a tense frown, moving his bloodied hand from his stomach. He took hold of the pillar with both arms and hauled himself upright. ‘Now go!’
Leon ducked his head and sprinted past the fountain, giving it a wide berth, as more bullets whooshed around him. As he reached the car, he heard a couple of piercing gunshots from a weapon without a silencer. David had opened fire. Leon turned and saw one of the men sprawled out on the ground next to the fountain. He turned his face away from the scene and got into the car. He started up, flicked on the headlights and raced down the street.
Leon was too far behind Adam to see his car, but he quickly worked out the direction Joanna must have gone. In accordance with their plan, she would be aiming to get to the city exit. Hegel Boulevard was the main road out of Coppice Gate and at the end was an intersection. If he went on from there, he would go directly toward Cape’s End at the east coast. If he took a right turn, he would end up at Penrose Fjord, a small sea inlet which was little more than a fishing village. The left turn was the likely one Joanna would have taken. The road wound back into Soren Forest in Wheeler Park, technically remaining in Coppice Gate district, and then westward all the way through the forest, back to Rock Moor. From there she could get to the city exit.
He reached the intersection and steered left. As he approached Wheeler Park, he left the lights of the main road behind and moved onto a lane without any streetlights. A line of Catseyes was all he saw for the next two or three miles.
Suddenly he spotted the rear reflectors of Adam’s car. The vehicle was parked off the road. Leon slowed down to get a better look and soon saw why Adam had stopped there. Rammed up against a tree a few feet away, hood smashed, was Joanna’s car.
He quickly pulled up and got out. The moon had just come out from behind the clouds. He went up to Adam’s vehicle and noticed that the car was unattended. Leon looked into the dense black woodland and wondered which way Joanna might have gone. It was too dark to see anything properly. He crept in cautiously, holding his handgun tightly in front of him, eyes wide as he peered into the darkness, listening for movement, and praying that his feet, which seemed to have a knack for snapping every twig on the ground,
wouldn’t give him away.
After a few minutes he reached a clearing. Moonlight broke through the trees and cast its milky light over the rough vegetation. It revealed a human form in grey lying on the ground. It was Joanna. Another person in a suit and tie stood over her, holding a gun with a mounted light in one hand, and what looked like a syringe in the other. It was Adam.
The two laid eyes on each other at exactly the same time. Adam dropped the syringe and automatically raised his weapon, as did Leon. The tactical light flashed in Leon’s eyes. He yelled and blindly fired straight into the beam.
Somewhere in an imaginary world, today is the beginning of the end for the first generation of characters from my novel, Systems. To mark the occasion, here’s the passage that explains what happens that day … er, today.
Another one will appear here on the 16th. Enjoy! – SK
From Systems, Chapter Eleven (Leon’s Promise)
14 January 2014, Crescent Bay East
The professor entered the coffeehouse in an anorak and rubber boots, his dark wavy hair windswept. Leon and David stood to greet him as he came to their table, and Leon leaned over to shake hands with him. Omar however was preoccupied with his umbrella, which was dripping all over the floor. He propped it against an empty chair before perfunctorily shaking hands with the pair, and sat down.
Three years had passed since work had begun on the Systems Experiment, and Omar was finally looking to be vindicated. The experiment had run for ten weeks, simulating a time frame of two hundred and fifty years, and the computer had produced data on the five different political systems almost continually. Though the closing results had yet to come through, it was an open secret that the theorem was proven. The implications were enormous. Some were speculating that the theorem had the potential to influence policymaking in individual countries, and thereby affect the character of the Mutual World Alliance as well. The MWA, a body of democratic states, was only a few years old and still finding its feet. No analyst could yet make a long term forecast of its future. Its destiny was waiting to be written.
The MWA research bodies had conducted the experiment privately, but everyone expected the results to become public knowledge soon. Leon could hardly wait. For days he’d been walking around in an almost constant reverie, elated at the prospect of being part of such a momentous time in history. Omar however had a more self-effacing attitude towards his achievements, and he’d credited the success of the experiment primarily to David. In his typically offbeat style Omar had humorously dubbed him Abdul Salaam, or Servant of the Peace, for bringing about a bloodless “virtual revolution”, one that had incurred not a single human
As these thoughts passed through his mind, Leon hadn’t been fully cognisant of the anxious look in the professor’s tawny eyes. Omar combed his short neat moustache with his fingernail nervously, lowered his head and with a quiet voice he uttered the most awful words Leon would ever hear in his life.
‘They’re shutting it down.’
Leon frowned. ‘Sorry, what –?’ He looked at David, and saw the consternation on his face. Then he realised what Omar meant, and his heart sank. ‘The experiment?’
David looked sharply at Omar. ‘Where did you hear that?’
His indignation was justified. David was an integral member of the team and he’d written much of the main program himself. If anyone was pulling the plug, then he’d expect to be amongst the first to hear about it.
‘I have a friend on the inside,’ said Omar. ‘I can’t tell you his name, but I trust him. He called me to warn me of their plans.’
Leon looked at Omar in alarm. He knew the professor had received numerous threats throughout his career. Officially they’d come from religious fanatics, but according to Omar they answered to a higher authority of evil.
‘Y-you don’t mean –?’
‘It’s them. My friend has heard that the STRO executive board is about to hold a meeting. It’ll happen sometime in the next forty-eight hours, maybe less.’
‘They can’t do that!’ said Leon.
‘They can, and they will,’ said Omar, ‘because they don’t want the truth to get out.’
David was still on the defensive. ‘But then why did they let the experiment run in the first place?’
‘Because they always have to be the ones pulling all the strings,’ replied the professor with a wry smile. ‘They knew I wouldn’t give up until I found someone to test the theorem. It was to their advantage to let me run the experiment where they could keep an eye on me, and terminate everything at the first sign of trouble.’ He sighed. ‘I was aware of this possibility, but I had to take the risk.
Now they want to get rid of me, because they know I won’t go quietly. And, I’m sorry to say, you’re in danger too. My friend says they’ve had all of us under surveillance, and they’ve identified three people as my accomplices. That’s both of you, and Joanna.’
‘Joanna?’ said Leon. ‘She isn’t even working on the experiment.’ ‘But she knows too much. She applied for a consultancy position at the same time you did.’
‘But she didn’t even get the job,’ said David.
‘That doesn’t matter. Due to her relationship to you they’ve assumed that she is involved. Now we need to get away before they come for us. My friend has a safe house and I’m going there tonight. No one should notice my absence right away. David, you’re the only one with direct access to the data. I need you to get it to me before they destroy it. Will you do it?’
David responded with a blank look. Leon had the feeling he was struggling more with accepting the situation than the request.
‘Are you sure your friend’s information is reliable?’ asked Leon.
‘Absolutely sure. He has many connections. He even knows who supplied them with their information on us.’ He looked at David intently. ‘It’s someone you know.’
Leon was appalled. He’d known Adam since college, and had always known that unlike his twin, he could be arrogant, brash and selfish. But Leon would never have thought that Adam was capable of anything like this. He glanced at David, imagining that he felt much worse. David however appeared strangely calm, as though he’d known it all along and had only been waiting for a confirmation. His eyes were sad.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Omar.
David shook his head. ‘Don’t be. If truth be told, it explains a few things. Adam’s been asking me all sorts of odd questions lately. Most of them have been about you.’
Omar nodded, almost knowingly. ‘Oh, yes?’
‘Last week he was even asking me what Abdul Salaam meant. It really seemed to bother him. I told him that it was just a nickname but I don’t think he believed me. Instead he advised me not to associate with you. He said –’ He looked at Omar somewhat guiltily, and then smiled faintly. ‘Never mind. With hindsight, I suppose I should have realised what was going on.’
‘Your brother is just misguided,’ said Omar. ‘In his mind he’s doing the right thing. They have invented many lies against me.’
‘That’s very kind of you to say, but he changed some time ago. I don’t know my own brother any more.’ David closed his eyes momentarily, as if to offer a silent prayer. Then he looked at Omar.
‘Right, let’s do it.’
Omar smiled appreciatively. ‘And you, Leon?’
Leon needed no persuading. ‘Count me in.’
Still officially on my break, but I thought I’d share some news I received yesterday via email regarding Systems. I’ve been awarded a Finalist medal in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Category of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
This is just to let you all know that I’m taking some time off from the blog. In fact my online activity is necessarily going to be minimal for a while. Can’t say when I’ll be back, but I will be eventually.
In 2009, I was the co-writer of a ‘good news’ show called Deliver!, which aired on Venus TV in the UK. In the last show of the season, we covered an ‘alternative’ economy model called LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) that was helping communities across the planet to get through recession. We described it as something that takes money ‘out of the equation and rewrites the rules’. It’s still up at YouTube here:
Fast-forward a couple of years to 2011, when Dr. Imran Chaudhry at Pakistan First Research Institute, the research division of PakistanFirst, asked me to co-author a paper for an alternative economy. (I had worked with PakistanFirst once before in a consultative capacity, on a paper making recommendations for provincial reforms in Pakistan.) He was aware of the alternative economy model covered in our news show, and liked the idea enough that he wanted PakistanFirst to present a model specifically tailored for Pakistani rural communities and villages. The resulting paper offers a system based loosely on LETS. We’ve dubbed it VSLE (Value, Skill and Labour Exchange). Like LETS, it’s interest-free and works on the principle of cooperation (collective interest) instead of profit (self interest), but it also has some distinguishing features of its own.
The paper was completed a few weeks ago and it has just been published at Smashwords under the grand title, Emergency Economy (though it’s not necessarily a model just for periods of recession; and its comments apply beyond just microeconomy).
Marghdeen Learning Centre participants: I’d be particularly interested to know your thoughts on this, in light of the fact that the next MLC course promises to contain something ‘practical’. Do you see any similarities – in principle – between this alternative economy model and the ‘Marghdeen’ that Iqbal envisioned? Even if you don’t read the paper, the above video should give you a good idea of what I’m getting at. And this recent post offers a clue as well.