Tag Archive for iqbal

Dr Javid Iqbal Passes Away

Dr Javid Iqbal

Photo credit: allamaiqbal.com

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 deepest condolences go out to his family.

 

 

Three Giants and Systems

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:

Parwez: Justice

G.A. Parwez

G.A. Parwez (1903-85)

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.

Jinnah: Unity

M.A. Jinnah

M.A. Jinnah (1876-1948)

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.

Iqbal: Liberty

M. Iqbal (1877-1938)

M. Iqbal (1877-1938)

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

Peter Manner

Peter Manner

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

Hitoshi Katayama

Hitoshi Katayama

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

Aaron Lloyd

Aaron Lloyd

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.

Hanif Omar

Hanif Omar

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.

Iqbal Biography – Last chance for 15% off

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).

Iqbal: His Life and Our Times – Releasing 8 May 2014

(Reproduced with minor edits from my mailing list message dated today, 5 May 2014). Pass it on!

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Iqbal: His Life and His Times

Hello Folks,

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,

Saleena

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Introduction
by
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

Announcement: A Completely Different Book on Iqbal

(Reproduced with minor edits from my mailing list message dated today 21 April 2014). Feel free to pass it on!

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Hello Folks,
 

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:

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-
Iqbal: His Life and His Times
THE MIND OF GOETHE,
THE HEART OF RUMI,
THE SPLENDOUR OF TAJ MAHAL. *

 

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.

JOIN US NOW AS IQBAL’S LEGACY CONTINUES TO UNFOLD THROUGH THE LIVES OF US ALL.

 

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Release date is yet to be confirmed, but it will be in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for updates.
 
All the Best, & Take Care Folks,
 
Saleena

 

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.

 

The book that launched my writing career – Foreword

In my last post I announced the release of the book Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State?. I’m reproducing the foreword below, in which I explain how the book prompted me to write Secular Jinnah.

But first, a note for those who are unfamiliar with the debate over Pakistan and are wondering about the title.

On the word ‘secular’

Simply put, the word ‘secular’ in the above title is really a synonym for ‘materialist’. Many Pakistanis don’t differentiate between the two concepts, because they see materialism as the final outcome of separating religion (and its moral values) from state affairs. This is why many Pakistanis will say they have no problem with the concept of equality before the law (usually identified with a secular state) and yet won’t identify themselves as secularists.

So, onto the Pakistan question. Pakistanis have never agreed over whether Pakistan was meant to be a ‘secular’ (materialist) state or an ‘Islamic’ one (that is, a religious state). In my books, I have tried to show that Pakistan (in the eyes of its founders) was not meant to be either a secular or a religious state, nor was it supposed to be a paradoxical mix of religion and secularism. So if it was none of the above, what was it? The answer can be found only when we understand what secularism and religion respectively mean. In short they are  practically two sides of the same coin, in that one focuses on materialism, and the other on spiritualism. That makes both of them not so much wrong as incomplete. And yet we can’t complete them by combining them, because the two are also totally incompatible for reasons I need not go into here. At any rate, a combination or synthesis of religion and secularism is also impossible. In my books I have described a fourth possibility in line with the Quranic view of reality, which encompasses both the material and the spiritual simultaneously – not as two separate things combined, but, to borrow from Iqbal’s description of Islam, “a single unanalysable reality which is one or the other as your point of view varies” - a bit like the uncertainty principle in quantum physics. Parwez operated on the same matter-spirit oneness principle in his book The Qur’anic System of Sustenance.

Purchase details (including discounted rates for both this title and The Qur’anic System of Sustenance) can be found if you scroll to the end of this post.

Without further ado, here is the Foreword.

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FOREWORD

This booklet is of special significance to me. It is directly responsible for the publication of my first book, and indirectly for my second as well. Indeed, this short publication can be credited for practically launching my writing career.

Avid readers of Pakistani history will know that Chief Justice Muhammad Munir’s From Jinnah to Zia (1979) is said to be one of Pakistan’s all-time best sellers. This is because Munir was the first to openly declare that M.A. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, was a ‘secularist’ (i.e. he advocated the separation of religion and state as in modern democratic states). Coming as it did from a former Chief Justice, this declaration carried much weight for Pakistani readership, and indeed, as Munir testified in his book, across the world the as well.

G.A. Parwez, who had known Jinnah personally and had been his counsel on matters relating to Islam, wrote a rebuttal in Urdu in 1980 soon after the second edition of Munir’s book was released. The English translation of that text can be found in the following pages. However, the original rebuttal missed one vital piece of information; and since this missing information was the catalyst for some completely new and important research I conducted some twenty-five years later, I would like to share the details for the benefit of the reader.

I originally came to translate this booklet not for Tolu-e-Islam, but for my father. In 2003 he had published a book titled Quran aur Pakistan (Sheffield: Bazm-e-Ilmofunn), containing his own Urdu poetry alongside a collection of G.A. Parwez’s writings, and the text of this booklet appeared as one of its chapters. My father and I worked together on the English translation, and in the course of crosschecking the references, I obtained a copy of From Jinnah to Zia. This was when I first noticed a quote not accounted for in Parwez’s rebuttal.

Parwez has written that in From Jinnah to Zia Munir relied on two pieces of evidence to support his claim that Jinnah was a secularist. They are:

1)     Jinnah’s statements against theocracy

2)     Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, on11 August 1947

However I found that Munir had actually relied on not two, but three pieces of evidence. The third and most important piece of evidence that Munir produced (and which he cited several times for emphasis) was Jinnah’s interview to Reuters, dated 21 May 1947 (dated incorrectly in Munir’s book as 1946). In this interview, Jinnah supposedly said that he envisioned Pakistan as a ‘modern democratic state with sovereignty resting in the people’ (Munir 1980, p.29). He stressed that the words were at odds with the Objectives Resolution, which states that ‘sovereignty rests with Allah’. At this point, since Parwez had not addressed the quote, I decided to try and find the original source to look at the context in which it might have been used. When I did obtain it around a month later, it emerged that not only was the date wrong, but the quote was actually a fake. Since that time, I have referred to it as the ‘Munir quote’.

This was just the beginning of my journey in learning about the Pakistan story. At first I intended only to write an article on this quote, but I had underestimated the significance of what I had uncovered. Munir’s quote, along with the two pieces of evidence that Parwez had highlighted, had long become a formulaic argument copied virtually verbatim time and again by every kind of writer, from the journalist to the historian, and accepted blindly as fact, without question. No one had thought to check on the original source and in fact no one even seemed to know or care as to where it originated. My first book, Secular Jinnah: Munir’s Big Hoax Exposed (2005) was the unexpected outcome of my first round of research, and here I wrote that the original source was probably Munir’s From Jinnah to Zia. But I was later to discover that this was not the original source of the quote. At any rate, my book was short and it hardly touched on Pakistan’s founding history. Over the next five years, my research continued and intensified, and I resolved to release a revised edition containing, among other things, updated information on the misconceptions about Jinnah and the Pakistan story. Instead I ended up writing an entirely new book. This was a complete political biography on Jinnah which also covered my updated research on the Munir quote. By the time I released Secular Jinnah & Pakistan: What the Nation Doesn’t Know in 2010, I had learned that the Munir quote had its origins not in Munir’s 1979 book, but in another famous publication authored by Munir: The Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954. It is better known as the Munir Report, since it made Munir a celebrity and he became Chief Justice of the Federal Court soon after the inquiry ended. Following the Munir Report, the first time that the fake quote was used as supporting evidence for a secular Pakistan was in Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly in August 1954. This quote had never been cited before, simply because it didn’t exist; and so this was the first time that the secularist politicians of Pakistan succeeded in silencing their opponents outright. Thereafter Munir’s quote was accepted as a legitimate piece of evidence for fifty years.

As for Quran aur Pakistan, although we began its translation in 2004, we were unable to publish it due to technical issues, and subsequently this also delayed the publication of this booklet for a long time. I am happy to know that the booklet at least is finally going into print. It may be one of Parwez’s lesser known works, but without it, the Munir quote may not have come to light for another fifty years. For that reason, it certainly has great historical value; but to me personally, for my own reasons, its worth is immeasurable.

Saleena Karim,Nottingham

23 August 2012

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Did Quaid-e-Azam Want to Make Pakistan a Secular State?

Available now at CreateSpace

(Also available now at Amazon)

5.99 USD (CreateSpace & Amazon.com)
4.99 GBP (Amazon UK)

Paperback, 64 pages
Published by Islamic Dawn Society and Tolu-e-Islam Trust in association with Libredux Publishing. Translated and edited by Saleena Karim & Fazal Karim.

Get 25% off this book if you purchase from CreateSpace, using the following discount code at checkout (limited offer):

Go to this page
Discount code: GWRCFWQK

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The Qur'anic System of SustenanceGet this book 25% off too

You can also get The Qur’anic System of Sustenance at the same 25% discount if you apply this code at CreateSpace:

Go to this page
Discount code: AN3UM9VX

A new book with ‘system’ in the title – out now

The Qur'anic System of Sustenance coverRecently I announced that Libredux Publishing was about to release a book in collaboration with another organisation (Tolu-e-Islam, Lahore). The book is out now in paperback, and its title is The Qur’anic System of Sustenance, the long-awaited English translation of G.A. Parwez’s Nizam-e-Rabbubiyat (1955). That makes it the second Libredux book with the word ‘system’ in the title. :)

The book has just become available at CreateSpace, as well as at Amazon US and Amazon UK. I will reproduce the editor’s foreword in my next post. In the meantime, allow me to introduce its author.

Ghulam Ahmad Parwez – not to be mixed up with the founder of Ahmadism, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – was a non-sectarian Muslim thinker with a rationalist approach to Islam. He was born in British India in 1903 and was an activist of the Pakistan movement. He was an associate of Dr. Iqbal; and it was at Iqbal’s suggestion that he set up his monthly journal Tolu-e-Islam in 1938, which is still in print today. He was also an adviser to M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Parwez received a posthumous Tehrik-e-Pakistan (Pakistan Movement) Gold Medal for his services in 1989. But he is best known for his outspoken views on religion, which he considered to be the antithesis of true Islam – and an obstacle in the way of unlocking humanity’s full potential.

Controversy with a capital ‘S’

G.A. Parwez

G.A. Parwez (1903-85)

Parwez wrote numerous books and articles, including the aptly-titled Islam: A Challenge to Religion (his only title originally written in English), a 4-volume lexicon of the Quran (Lughat ul Quran), and a 3-volume expositional and scientific translation of the Quran (Mufhoom al Quran). But perhaps his most important work was Nizam-e-Rabbubiyat (1955), which translates literally to ‘system of (universal) sustenance’. When my father and I translated this book, we changed the title to include the word ‘Quranic’ because the word Rabbubiyat is derived from one of the names of God (Rabb) in the Quran. At the time of its release, the book generated a lot of controversy. Some suggested that his book was a thinly-disguised communist manifesto, due to his anti-capitalist views and the fact that his proposed ‘system’ had a somewhat socialist bent. But in fact Parwez was opposed to both capitalism and communism on the grounds that they are purely materialistic and reject the spiritual (just as he was opposed to religion on the grounds that it is purely spiritualistic and rejects the material).

A misnomer

Parwez said he was actually offering a Quran-inspired economic system as a third alternative to both. But was he really talking about an economic system? Not at all. It would take me far too long to explain why in this post – and anyway, it’s covered in the foreword that will appear here soon. But suffice it to say that what makes Parwez’s proposed ‘system’ different from capitalism and communism is that it is not confined to the material. In other words, it covers more than just economy. The ‘system of sustenance’ presented by Parwez should be understood in much the same way as I have described ‘Libredux’ in Systems – as an open-ended structure distinguished only by the universal ideals at its core. To borrow Parwez’s words, this type of ‘system’ is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

And what is that end?

The answer is in this very post. Tell me if you spotted it.

Postscript: To celebrate the launch of this title, it will be made available at a reduced price for a limited time. Details to follow in my next post.

Can sci-fi redefine our political system?

Ballots for the world - DemocracyCompletely by accident this morning I have seen a post at the Science Fiction & Political Thought blog that briefly reviews my novel. The blog’s name is pretty self-explanatory. Its author, Dadrocant, is interested in exploring the links between sci-fi and political thought. In his latest post, ‘Can Science Fiction help us redefine our political system?‘, he mentions Systems as an example of sci-fi that questions whether or not democracy really is the best possible political system. This passage from that post caught my attention:

The center dilemma of this story lies in a social experiment simulation conducted 20 years before the events of the book, where several political systems are put to the test in a comparison, and even though there is no explanation as to what exactly the ideal system that is the center of the test [Libredux] is exactly like, it does hint at some interesting points, which can be seen today in some of the discourses from those who are discontented about the current state of affairs in western democracies …

That, of course, is the point Systems attempts to make. There is no such thing as a fixed ideal system. The distinguishing characteristic of an ideal system is that it is never fixed. That’s why you won’t find a blueprint for the Libredux model in Systems. And for any Pakistanis reading this post, this should be big clue as to why Iqbal also never offered any sort of blueprint for an ideal political system, and why even that epitome of pragmatism, Mr Jinnah, was supposedly ‘vague’ about what Pakistan’s system would be like. ;)

So, does Systems question democracy? Yes, it questions the modern democratic state – just as it questions all fixed ideologies – but not democracy in principle, which is based on both the ideals of liberty and justice. In fact, I always assumed that the Libredux model would likely be set up as some sort of democracy and evolve from there, in line with what I have said in SJ2 about ideal systems being able to develop by using any contemporary polity as a starting point. To reiterate: A ‘Libredux’ system would be one that theoretically takes the shape of almost any system, as long as it was fit to survive in the conditions of its time, and it retained its ideals (as per the theorem). Like a living organism, its body or structure can take any shape but its ethical DNA remains ultimately the same. I wrote this in an earlier draft of the manuscript for Systems – in its long-winded synopsis, actually – but it never made it into the final version of the novel. I didn’t want too much technical stuff to get in the way of the story.

The whole post on sci-fi as a medium for exploring future political systems can be found here.

2017: The Battle for Marghdeen – paperback out now

2017: The Battle for Marghdeen coverAnd now … it’s out! Libredux Publishing is proud to announce that the paperback edition of Khurram Ali Shafique’s book, 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen, has gone into print today, and is already available for purchase here. It will become available at Amazon soon as well, probably by next week. Ebook is available here.

If you read this short but powerful book, please send me your reviews, or post them at Amazon.

Intro from the back cover follows.

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Marghdeen is an ideal society conceived by Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), a foremost thinker of modern times. It is a world where life is inside-out, people know their destinies and there is no poverty, neediness, crime or injustice.

In 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen, the author shows how such a society can be achieved in a short space of time, as long as we are prepared to change our perception about the world we live in. The book presents the basic principles for achieving Marghdeen, illustrated with examples from modern history. There is a special emphasis on societies that already acknowledge Iqbal as their thinker, but these principles can be applied anywhere in the world.

***

One of the finest achievements of the human mind is to see, to understand, and to put the things seen and understood into a greater perspective. With Khurram Ali Shafique, some kind of thinking of the heart has returned into the arena: a greater perspective, so to speak. – Dr. Thomas Stemmer

René Raison – rebirth of reason

Note: I accidentally titled this ‘Rebirth of Thought’ when it should have said ‘Reason (for) Rebirth’. Corrected now. I’m half asleep today!

Note (again): It was really bugging me why I had thought ‘raison’ meant thought, so I double-checked. Turns out that when I originally chose the word ‘raison’ (some years go), I picked it for its second meaning: reason, mind. So my memory wasn’t mixed up after all. Note to self: Never second-guess yourself during a migraine!


Dr Muhammad Iqbal

Dr Muhammad Iqbal – Courtesy allamaiqbal.com

I intended to put up an entirely different post today, but will leave that for later (though that one is important too). Just wanted to mention something that has come up at the Marghdeen Learning Centre’s present course, The Wisdom of Moses, where Systems also happens to be part of its required reading list.

This week’s question was asking about what is common between two seemingly unrelated passages written by Iqbal. They are quite long so I won’t reproduce them in full here, but in short both of them mention the passage in the Quran in which there is a reference to ‘resurrection’ or ‘rebirth’.

As Iqbal quotes it:

Your creation and resurrection are like the creation and resurrection of a single soul. (31:28)

Aside from a few who believe that this is literally a reference to reincarnation on earth (and yes, I used reincarnation as a metaphor in Systems), most understand that this is a comment on the recycling of the universe (including life), and it is also a statement on the birth and rebirth of humanity as a whole, treated as a ‘single soul’. In addition, it’s saying that the fate of human society rests equally on each and every one of us. So each of us is also society (or humanity), and what every one of us does will affect its evolution.

But there is a bit more to it than even that – from Iqbal’s viewpoint. He was interested in the method for reviving society. His comments from the two aforementioned passages are as follows:

First passage: Allahabad Address: Is it possible for you to achieve the organic wholeness of a unified will? Yes, it is. … Pass from matter to spirit. Matter is diversity; spirit is light, life and unity. … One of the profoundest verses in the Holy Quran teaches us that the birth and rebirth of the whole of humanity is like the birth and rebirth of a single individual. Why cannot you … as a people, … live and move and have your being as a single individual?

Second passage: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam: A living experience of the kind of biological unity, embodied in this verse [as cited above], requires today a method physiologically less violent and psychologically more suitable to a concrete type of mind.

Now this has caused a stir over at the course. What is biological unity? What is ‘rebirth’? How do we achieve it? What does Iqbal mean when he says about society: live and move and have your being as a single individual?

Brain, mind - Two-in-one

Brain, mind – Two-in-one

The question becomes easier to answer if it is reworded: How do we reboot the mind (of society)? Obviously, through re-education, or, in biological terms, by rewiring the brain. We know how difficult it is in science to differentiate between brain and mind anyway. (Now you also know why reincarnation and psychic ability – what Hitoshi called a ‘worldwide neuron network’ – appear together in Systems.) If a society can achieve this, it will also achieve unity of collective thought – and unity of purpose. This is what the theorem (and the Systems Experiment) in the novel highlights as well (Chapter 11). Oh, and it was something I mentioned a few times in SJ2 as well, though there it was phrased ‘intellectual unity’. ;)

In other words, this is all theorem stuff again. My favourite Iqbal line, the one I call the ‘muse’ for the theorem, speaks of rendering the three intangible ideals (equality, freedom, solidarity) as ‘space-time forces':

Muse line (Reconstruction): The essence of ‘Tauhid’ [Unity of God] as a working idea is equality, solidarity, and freedom. The State … is an endeavour to transform these ideal principles into space-time forces, an aspiration to realise them in a definite human organisation.

As far as I understand it, there is scant difference between this passage about the ‘state’ and the ones about ‘biological’ unity. Both are describing the meaning of true Unity. It’s just the subject that differs. One is the human being; the other the political state. In fact, the muse line technically mentions both ‘state’ and the human being (‘human organisation’).

René Descartes

René Descartes

Incidentally – more trivia for you – a key location (and a chapter) in Systems was quite deliberately named René Raison dam. It was a wink and a nod to René Descartes, the father of the dualist doctrine, as well as a phrase in French –  ignoring the bad grammar. :) Literal meaning is in the title of this article, and its implication is that we need to rethink what reality means. Is it split into spirit and matter, unseen and seen, thought and material, body and mind, space and time?

Or is it Unified?

The Battle for Marghdeen – out now

At midnight Karachi time, Khurram Ali Shafique’s 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen went live at Smashwords. You can pick it up by following the link below. And, for a short time only, we’re celebrating the launch by leaving it open for free download to anyone who uses the coupon code available here.

2017: The Battle for Marghdeen cover1) Go to the page for the book

2) Scroll down the page and choose a format – epub, Kindle, PDF etc.

3) Apply this code: UH45Q

Enjoy!

Note: This offer expires at midnight, 18 August (California time).

The Battle for Marghdeen – Introduction

This title has already been released. Further info here

Seven Stages article at Republic of Rumi website

Anyone who has read Systems will know that its publisher, Libredux, is named after the ideal social system based on the Cohesive Ethics Theorem. When I used that name, I had no plans for it other than to publish the novel. But now, and quite unexpectedly, Libredux is taking on its second title, this time penned by the Marghdeen Learning Centre’s Khurram Ali Shafique.

At around the same time as I was formulating the theorem for the novel, Mr Shafique was formulating a theory of his own. His new book is inspired by a pattern he has found in the writings of Iqbal, which reveals a seven stage cycle for the development of a nation, or what Iqbal called the ‘collective ego’.

The book, titled: 2017: The Battle for Marghdeen, is due out on 14 August 2012 (coinciding with Pakistan’s 65th independence anniversary). I’m reproducing the Introduction below, to give you an idea of what it’s about. Further details will come later.

NB: Marghdeen is a fictional city on Mars, representing an ideal society as conceived by Iqbal in his epic poem, Javid Nama.

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Introduction

Khurram Ali Shafique has one of those rare gifts of being able to find patterns in the most unexpected of places. His discovery of the ‘seven stages’ in Iqbal’s works, (having first seen the connection between Iqbal’s epic poem Javid Nama and his famous Reconstruction lectures) is most intriguing and has wider implications for the study of history with an essentially inductive method. This is not to suggest it is a tool of prediction, but it does provide a method for analysing the psychological direction in which a given society is moving as a ‘collective ego’. Moreover, it serves to illustrate the universal principles that motivate all nations in pursuit of a Higher goal, and to also show what happens when these same principles are neglected.

2017: The Battle for Marghdeen coverIn this work, Mr. Shafique has looked at Pakistan (and also Bangladesh) as a case in point. The most interesting part of the cycle can be seen at stage four – the ‘freedom’ stage (1947-67). At first glance it seems thatPakistanis not moving as we might predict in light of the cycle of stages. As Mr. Shafique shows, this is because the ‘freedom’ stage marks the point at which individuals and small sections of Pakistani society actively began to focus on individualistic goals instead of collective goals. Some commentators on the history of Pakistan have similarly concluded that there is a point of departure from the ‘Pakistan idea’ in the same period. The main difference between most of these commentators and Mr. Shafique however is that Mr. Shafique has illuminated the fundamental reason for the departure in clear terms. ThePakistanidea was the Muslims’ collective basis of partition in 1947, but the point of departure also becomes manifest soon after 1947. The implications for the later stages, especially the final one we have entered as of 2007 (‘creation’), are very interesting indeed, if not alarming, depending on how one interprets the data.

Yet Mr. Shafique has also shown that surface appearances rarely if ever represent the whole of reality. In fact the decision and actions taken by a collective ego or nation are based, in his words, ‘either on the real goal collectively adopted thirty years earlier, or its misinterpretation’ (emphasis mine). What this means is that the collective ego will always choose between one of two directions, or what the Quran calls the ‘two highways’; and this has obvious implications for that much misunderstood concept called the ‘Two Nation Theory’. Again, as Mr. Shafique puts it, whether or not Pakistan proves true to herself ‘will depend, eventually, on whether or not its people manage to make its history a success story. That in itself seems to a daunting task just now, but this pattern itself might be a key to the solution’.

In other words, if the Pakistani nation can become consciously aware of its choices, it will be in a better position to make the right one and so succeed in the final phase. With this in mind, he has not only outlined the double nature of Pakistan’s path using some compelling evidence, but he has also supplied what he sees as the defining goal for the last phase, and the all-important turning point (2017) which will ultimately determine the outcome. Will Pakistan recognise her true nature? Will she transform into Marghdeen?

Whether or not Pakistan succeeds in the end, her journey through its seven stages nevertheless stands to offer invaluable information on the universal principles that motivate all nations in pursuit of a Higher goal.

And in any case, Mr. Shafique is optimistic, for he believes – based on what his theory truly implies – that there is no such thing as an evil age. Indeed he is, as Iqbal once described himself, ‘almost a fatalist in regard to the various forces that ultimately decide the destinies of nations’. This work thus presents an exciting new development not only for Iqbal and Pakistan studies, but for the field of history as well.

Saleena Karim, Nottingham, 28 July 2012