Living Islam - Islamic Tradition


20200208, vs.2.2



Notes From Dr. Sabrina Lei’s Lecture On
Muhammad Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

by Omar KN

= Provisional Notes =

Iqbal: ”Greek thought essentially obscured their [the Muslim thinkers’] vision of the Quran.”
Iqbal: ”the spirit of the Quran (is) essentially anti-classical [anti Greek philosopical system], img #003

Tawheed Is the Unifying Notion

Tawheed is the unifying notion to reinterpret the relation of Creator and creation in relation to time.

An expression of Islamic teachings into speculative thought. at 38

Not the euclidean definition of space, nor the Newtonian definition of time.
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What belongs to the realm of eternity and what belongs to the realm of becoming, [not in opposition] - img #004

Acc. to Iqbal the central role should be given to the notion of time.
The notion of time should not be interpreted acc. to the Greek approach,
but should be interpreted according to what is the deep teaching of the Quran.

the notion of time is central when we try to shape [explain] 3 (particular) dichotomies [dichotomy: a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different] relations between:

Usually (acc. to classical Greek philosophy) these 3 are in a dichotomical relationship [they stand in opposition] to each other.

But Iqbal is trying to read those 3 dichotomies in a completely different perspective.

Time/ Eternity;   Transcendance/ Immanence;   Creator/ Creation;

i.o. to do this [he employs 2 key quranic notions:]

Taqdeer And Tawheed

Taqdeer in opposition to the Greek notion of Ousia (substance - in Aristotelian philosophy - this notion has shaped all of Western philosophy).

from the root qaddara, to measure, to quantify, to determine , see img #005


Everythings exists as taqdeer. a kind of nature that is rooted in time. Destiny is interpreted as time, and as a dynamic force, a way of development.

”Time regarded as Destiny forms the very essence of things. As the Quran says: ’God created all things and assigned to each its destiny.’ The destiny of a thing then is not an unrelenting fate working from without like a taskmaster. It is the inward reach of a thing, its realizable possibilities, which lie within the depths of its nature, and serially actualize themselves without any feeling of external compulsion.” Iqbal

This means that the notion of taqdeer or qadr - destiny - is not an external force which compels a thing to move towards which is not related to the inner possibilities of its nature.

But taqdeer is interpreted as the inner possibility of each being, who develop in time according to the [scilsen?] possibilities. And this is true for human beings, as well as for the natural world, everything that is part of creation.

from 1500
If we compare this with Ousia, the notion of substance is something where the elements of dynamism are not part of the essence of something (in GCP), but is closely related to its material part. So when we think about Ousia as substance, which is composed (in metaphysics in essence as ?) an immaterial part, about time or the development in time, we concentrate our attention only on the material part.
because the material part is actually bonded to development in time, but the purer substance the more it is perfect (acc. to classical Greek philosophy) and the material part is reduced.
And the reduction of the material part is the fact that it is more static. (?)

So in Aristotalian philosophy the perfection of a substance is static. The lesser it is involved in the temporal change, or temporal development, the more it is perfect.

Iqbal actually reverses this perspective,
because according to the Quran, { We create everything with a taqdeer} , so with a nature in order to develop fully, (so it) should be actually developing in time.

Because one of the core principles of Iqbal’s philosophy is the fact that (in his opinion - from the start) in Islam spirit and matter are not two opposites, are not seen as opposite forces, but spirit realizes itself through matter, through development of the material part of what exists. Both of them have the limit [/goal] toward God.

through this ontological priority of taqdeer - (substituting this as) a new philosophical paradigm - the notion of substance, he is able to reconcile the following dichotomies:

Being/ Becoming;     Appearance/ Reality;     Eternal/ Contingent;    see img #007

According to Aristotelian or classical [Greek] metaphysic Being and Becoming are actually part of the same substance, as I said before, if a substance is in constant becoming (i.e. change) this means that it is less perfect, and is bound to dissolution.

because the material part of the Ousia or substance is what leads the substance itself to be dissolved, because it is the material part which is in the process of becoming, but not the being (i.e. the essence), the essence, quiddity, [mahiyya], what makes a thing what it is. And the essence of a thing remains static. [in classical (Greek) philosophy ]

So the essence of the things is the true reality, while its phenemological development is Appearance. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a reality in itself, but it is an appearance because of its contingent character in relation to time.

So this is at the metaphysical level, at the phenemological level, at the temporal level,
(referring to Being/ Becoming;     Appearance/ Reality;     Eternal/ Contingent;)

His 2nd core principle is Tawheed

Tawheed is the unifying notion to reinterpret the relation of Creator and creation in relation to time.

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Creator and creation cannot exist [in our mind] without each other, because one word explains the other.
@37 they are closely connected.

Same thing with eternity / temporality
Same thing with appearance/ reality

The notion of Tawheed is a notion that doesn’t have a counterpart.
It is a unifying notion, in which it is possible to reinterprete the notion of the Creator and the creation.
from a different point of view [?] always in relation to the role of time.

Iqbal uses 2 verses to express this point of view
53-42 God is the limit/ goal (Pickthall) المنتهی,
12-21 God is predominant to his purpose (Pickthall), غالب علی امره

other translations for 53-42:
- limit = äusserste Grenze/ höchster Grad/
- the finality, (final) Goal, the (final) End

other translations for 12-21:
- And Allah is predominant over His affair,
- And Allah hath full power and control over His affairs
- Allah is the master of His affair
- Allah prevails in His purpose

Everything that exists points to God or points toward Tawheed, but not only in a relation that is only vertical (that moves forward /upward to the Principle), but a relationship in time, that is vertical and (also) circular, because tauheed is a comprehensive concept, in which all/ everythings exists … (pause)

We don't have the philosophical language to express it.

Tawheed is the limit of what you can think, as the limit of what can exist.

Tawheed can be interpreted as a kind of unity which justifies the multiplicity of contingent beings.1
So through (the notion of) Tawheed you justify contingent beings which exist in time. [or the multiplicity of contingent beings.]

Beyond this term it's meaningless to speak about either being or existence, or either appearance or reality. Even the relationship of Eternity to temporarily - they find the(ir) limits at this notion (of tawheed).

This is a kind of challenge to reorganize the philosophical Islamic thought based on these two notions (Taqdeer And Tawheed), in order to develop a new challenge not only to islamic thought, but (also) to give a fresh start to metaphysical thought [which is] universal.

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1: Avicenna called Existence مکن الوجود mumkin-al-wujúd (contingent being) and Being واجب الوجود wájib-al-wujúd (necessary being).

From: Insights Into The Nature Of (Being) And Existence
From Sh. Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, via SPK, W.C. Chittick

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2 related articles:

Einstein, Iqbal, and the Concept of Time in Islam

FATIMA ALTAF, 30th November 2018

” … the future is given… not as lying before, yet to be traversed; it is given only in the sense that it is present in its nature as an open possibility. It is time regarded as an organic whole that the Qur’an describes as Taqdir or the destiny – a word which has been so much misunderstood both in and outside the world of Islam. Destiny is time regarded as prior to the disclosure of its possibilities.” [Quoted from ?]

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Quranic Concept of Time

Irshaad Hussain, SEP 10, 2010

In the Qur'an, the key "events" which determine man's metaphysical makeup all take place outside the flow of time as we know it. They take place in a different plane of existence than this material plane - in a "trans-historical" or "meta-historical" plane, where time has a different flow and flux so that the relation of that world to this must be viewed as a hierarchical rather than a linear relationship.

One of these events is the creation of Adam…

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