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July 31st, 2014

Is Allama Iqbal suggesting that the West cannot be reformed by Islam?

I refer blog readers to the following two links for Allama Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal's verses of poetry entitled Ishaat Islam Farangistan Mein (Propagation of Islam in the West) in his book Zarb-i Kaleem: website

At the second link, an English translation is given, but I simplify it below for clarity:

The conscience of their culture is devoid of religion,
Among Western people [or Europeans] brotherhood is based on ties of race.

In the eyes of the English, the status does not increase,
of the Brahmin who joins the Christian religion.

Even if the English embrace the religion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad,
the unfortunate Muslim will still remain a slave.

Muslims, and especially Ahmadis engaged in the propagation of Islam, have always made the point expressed in the second verse above, that it is an inadequacy of the Christian religion that the non-white subject peoples who accepted Christianity were not treated as equals by white Christians of European descent. Christianity could not make them brethren. On the other hand, they pointed out the unique achievement of Islam that it welded various races into one brotherhood, whether high or low, master or slave, and that it has the spiritual power to do so again.

However, Iqbal is here saying that even the religion of the Mustafa cannot remove the feelings of racial superiority among its followers of European descent. There is an evil among some races which cannot be eradicted even if they should accept Islam! So much for the perfect religion which came for all mankind!

I came across these verses in the book Iqbal Kay Huzoor… in a footnote by the compiler of that book. The compiler noted these verses in a footnote while he was quoting one of Iqbal's conversations, of 1938, in which the Allama said that the efforts to propagate Islam in Europe by the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat will be fruitless for Islam even if leading British people accepted Islam through its efforts.

This book is available online. The relevant pages in one online edition are 22 (read from last two lines on page) and 23. Here is the link to the contents page.

I have a copy of an older edition, which belonged to the late Hafiz Sher Mohammad sahib.

4 Responses to “Is Allama Iqbal suggesting that the West cannot be reformed by Islam?”

  1. August 3rd, 2014 at 5:58 am
    From Friend of this blog:

    I read with interest Iqbal's statement concerning the effect of propagation of Islam on western civilization. 

    Iqbal made the mistake of assuming that things would always remain static, that people's behaviors do not change, that on the basis of present behaviors he could predict the future behavior of a class of people. While it is true that there is a lot of race conciousness in western societies leading to discrimination and prejudices against people of other races and culture, but this is true of people in other parts of the world as well.

    Iqbal should have been aware based on history that people's behaviors do change, e.g., religious wars were greatly reduced in Europe after the separation of church and state, the Vikings became a peaceful people after being ferocious warriors, and people of Europe or European descent as a whole emerged out of the Dark Ages to become the leading powers of the world in the field of science and technology as well as good governance.

    I have been astounded to see the number of football players of African or Asian descent who have made it to the national teams of the countries of Europe. In the 1986 World Cup, I do not remember seeing a single non-white player in France's team. But in the 2006 World Cup, most of the players playing for France were of African descent. In the 2014 edition of the World Cup, I believe all countries from western Europe had at least one player of non-European origin. The United States has many non-white players playing for the US teams. There are definitely racial currents still flowing in western societies, but God's ways are evolutionary in nature because he perfects stage by stage, and he replaces one set of people with another, so nothing remains static as Iqbal would have us believe. There was absolutely no need for Iqbal to have been pessimistic about Islam being able to change western societies for the better. 

  2. August 3rd, 2014 at 6:10 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    The number of non-European descent sportspersons who represented England at the current Commonwealth games in Glasgow, Scotland, can be seen at this website:

    These are descendants of people who were colonial subjects of the British Empire, and they are now representing England, Scotland and Wales.

  3. England is  currently in India playing a Test series. In the first test, out of 11 players, 4 have Muslim names: Hameed, Ali, Rashid and Ansari. 4 out of 11 players is a very high percentage. 3 of these players took 8 out of the 10 wickets that fell during India's first innings. One of them scored a century during England's first innings. Another has the chance to score a century on his test debut as he has already scored over 60 runs and is still batting in the second innings. (I hope he succeeds). So people of Muslim origin are not only getting a chance to represent England but are also making outstanding contributions. Allama Iqbal, I wish you were alive to see this.

  4. The English cricket team has, of course, had a captain with a Muslim name in the recent past, Nasir Hussain (born Madras, India).

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