Tag Archive for libredux

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!


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,



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!


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:

Iqbal: His Life and His Times


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.




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,


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.


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.

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.


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

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


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.



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

How Secular Jinnah inspired Systems Part 3: The missing principle

As SJ1’s readership grew, so did the requests for a sequel. At first I only intended to release a revised edition and call it SJ2. And yet, all sorts of new information kept cropping up on the Pakistan story. My minor list of revisions soon became a monster file of notes which couldn’t be organised except in the form of a new book.


Then between late 2006 and mid-2007, two things happened to affect both the as-yet unwritten SJ2 and Systems. First, I came up with the ‘theorem’ for the novel in a kind of eureka moment, though this had been building up for some time. As I mentioned in Part 2, before this point my ‘ideal’ system model for the fictional Systems Experiment had been nothing more than a name. This was because I’d been semi-consciously aware that a fixed system was problematic. If I described the features of this system in the fiction in detail, it might be set in stone and treated as some fixed ideology. Fictional or not, I’d instinctively known I wanted to avoid that.

Single Source PrincipleThe fact that an ideal system is never fixed (because evolution itself is a Natural Law) now registered in my conscious knowledge for the first time. This was thanks largely to my in-depth study of the Pakistan story and in particular the thoughts of Jinnah and Iqbal (in that order. Jinnah’s  intelligence and acute ethical awareness remains greatly under-appreciated even among the experts). And so all the pieces came together. The idea (it had no name at first) was very simple and based on common sense. If you assume that everything in the universe has a common starting point of some sort, and you assume that the laws of nature also have the same starting point, then all ideals have the same starting point too … in principle. And just as the universe – with its zillions of atoms and subatomic particles and other seemingly separated bits and pieces called gravity and black holes and dark matter and space and time – actually remains one in principle, then all universal ideals must really be aspects or derivatives of a single common ideal.

I also remembered my old issue with that SJ1 appendix – the two irreducible ideals of justice and freedom. As it turns out, the two really are irreducible for reasons I won’t explain here, but whilst we often treat them as separate and ultimately incompatible, they really are not. In combination they represent one ultimate principle. I would later call this the Single Source Principle (though this part of the theorem was never explained in detail in the novel). Of course to many people it’s better known as Oneness, or Unity.

DNA cross section

Computer-generated cross section of DNA, from a top-down view.


At any rate, I finally had the essence of a testable ‘theorem’ (for the fiction, at least). As I put it in Systems:

… justice and liberty are the only universal ideals; all other ethical principles are either derivatives or aspects of these ideals. But justice and liberty are themselves interconnected because they come, just like the physical universe and every law of nature, from a single source.

It seemed natural to call this relationship cohesive ethics; like a kind of ‘theory of everything’ for universal ideals. (I later tacked on the word ‘theorem’ in the novel for effect). To my mind, any social system built around the ideals of both justice and liberty together would be acting in harmony with the Natural Order and so was bound to succeed. Its exact structure – the minor details – wouldn’t matter. What would matter was its type … what it aimed for … its spirit … its ethical DNA. And by virtue of a beautiful accident, I already had the perfect name for this type of system: Libredux.

a social system with no fixed rules, except for one binding principle which could not be broken under any circumstances.

Now I had almost everything I needed for the novel. But it still wouldn’t be finished for another five years.


Second, in around May 2007 I had some interesting correspondence with the late Pakistani parliamentarian MP Bhandara, which led to my inadvertently becoming involved with his constitutional bill to make the 11 August 1947 speech of MA Jinnah a ‘substantive’ part of Pakistan’s constitution. Again, details aren’t important (though we’ll touch on it in the next part; the whole story is in SJ2’s appendix in any case). But that experience showed me just how important a strong constitution is. It also alerted me to the fact that something extremely important might be missing in Pakistan’s constitution – something that was leaving its fundamental sections open to misinterpretation.

Next: Pt 4 (final): Reversal

Earlier posts in this mini-series:

Introduction … Pt 1: The first book 

Pt 2: Libredux … Pt 3: The missing principle 


(Some images in this post are copyrighted)

Systems: What the title says

Despite having seen a lot of people get the wrong end of the stick about the title Secular Jinnah (and though I admit I let that happen on purpose), I had never thought that the title of the novel might be similarly open to misinterpretation.

Imran S Bhinder is a young Pakistani philosopher who gained notoriety after he exposed a major literary scholar for plagiarism through translation. When he heard that my novel was titled Systems, he emailed me with the comment that my choice of title was interesting, given that it has become fashionable to be anti system – or, more specifically, that philosophers tend to dismiss any concept of a system based on ‘metaphysical categories’. And that got me, because in the first place it hadn’t occurred to me that the title might appear to be advocating a particular type of system, when in fact it’s just a title on the themes of the story, and of course the Systems Experiment.

In fact he’d raised a good point and I felt it was worth mentioning here. In the Systems Experiment, five social systems are put to the test in a supercomputer simulation. Two of them, theocracy (or religious state) and monarchy (kingdoms) are the control, since they are accepted as historical failures. The next two are modern capitalist democracy and communism, which are down in the novel as the systems ‘still being tried in history’ (never mind that in real life there is a debate as to whether communism has already failed or not). The fifth is based on the Cohesive Ethics Theorem. In the novel the theorem is described as follows:

Omar believed that justice and liberty are the only universal ideals; all other ethical principles are either derivatives or aspects of these ideals. But justice and liberty are themselves interconnected because they come, just like the physical universe and every law of nature, from a single source. He called this universal relationship cohesive ethics.

The social system based on the theorem is described as:

The fifth represented Omar’s theorem in action, and it was the only one without a name. Omar wasn’t keen on giving the model a formal designation. To his mind it created the false impression that his model was offering a fixed system, when in fact dynamism was its driving force. Nevertheless for the sake of the experiment he gave his model a descriptive name: Libredux.”

So in short, the title ‘Systems’ is a reference to the experiment itself. The ‘libredux’ system is based on a metaphysical theory, but it’s not a fixed ideology. And whereas metaphysics is generally treated as something that cannot be tested in a lab, in this story the Systems Experiment is an empirical test for the theorem.

By the way, any resemblance to the idea that Pakistan was a ‘laboratory’ is completely coincidental. (What do you mean, you don’t believe me?)

Note: There is a page coming (not too difficult, I promise) to explain the idea behind the theorem. I’ll update this post when it’s ready.