Tag Archive for marghdeen learning centre

Choose Your Destiny

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

Dear Friends,

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.

Case Study

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.

The Catch

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.

The hazards of ignoring the
“trends of modern times”:
Mussolini and his beloved
after their execution

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

Question

  • 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

Straight off the Wall

Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai.

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).

AThe Peace Man: A true anarchist (though he doesn't like labels).

The Peace Man: A true anarchist (though he doesn’t like labels).

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.

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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.

VSLE: An alternative economy model

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.

Emergency Economy

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).

Click here to pick up a PDF copy of this paper for free. You don’t need an account to download it. The provincialism paper I mentioned is available for free as well.

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.

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 – 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.

——————————————————–

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

Systems in an Iqbal education programme

Dr Muhammad Iqbal

Courtesy allamaiqbal.com

Yesterday I learned that the Systems trailer has been included in a course (Title: DNA of History: History According to Iqbal) being run by the Marghdeen Learning Centre, a body affiliated with the Iqbal Academy. I felt truly honoured at the mention, especially because of the particular focus of the lesson in which the trailer appeared. (I would have linked to the lesson page, since the course is run online, but you can’t view it unless you’re a participant on the course).

THE AGE OF POTENTIAL

Here are some of the most interesting points made in the lesson by the course teacher, Khurram Ali Shafique:

“Do we find any common strand” in the events of our times? Yes. Everything happening in our times is related to “Potential.”

In the field of natural sciences, we have already moved on from principles to potentials: the “principles” of natural sciences discovered in the previous phase gave birth to an age of invention in our times.

The problem is that while we discovered the tremendous potential of the physical world, we have not matched it with similar progress in discovering the potential of the human soul …

… Let’s begin with the most basic thing: Tawhid, or the Unity of God. According to Iqbal, the three principles implied in the Unity of God are “equality, solidarity, and freedom.” …

… Let me summarize. What I have tried to share is that we are now living in the age of potential. The three traits of this age are:

  1. Nations cannot be forced into slavery anymore, although they can still be deceived into it – and this is regardless of how weak the victim or how strong the oppressor. This is the potential of freedom.
  2. The world is rearranging itself into nation states, which are likely to develop a symbiotic relationship. This is the potential of solidarity.
  3. Nations can become aware of their destinies and make informed choices based on this awareness. This is the potential of equality.
Snapshot from Systems trailer

Snapshot from Systems trailer

LITERALLY TRUE

So once again, the focus is on the three ideals that appear in the Cohesive Ethics Theorem. Most interestingly of all, Mr Shafique has stressed that Iqbal’s own reference to these three principles in his famous Reconstruction lectures should be understood literally. In other words, the key to unlocking human potential in full can only come from mastering our understanding of these specific three principles, just as we have begun to unlock the creative potential of the physical universe by mastering our understanding of the laws of nature. As someone says in Systems:

‘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.’

The lesson opens with this question: Do you think that this video (Systems trailer) is relevant to what is being discussed in this post?

I reply: Why yes, and not in a small way!

But then, I would say that. :)

And a final note: I highly recommend joining the courses at the Marghdeen Learning Centre. They are cleverly designed to be as informal as possible, while introducing some thought-provoking ideas.