1. The period of Shaikh Mahmud of Tabriz coincides not with Chengiz but with Hulagu Khan. The poet means to refer to the political and social disintegration that resulted from Mongol invasions.

2. Reference is to the political, social, and intellectual domination of the East by the West.

3. He declaims to be a poet of the traditional type who revels in love-songs.

4. This verse is taken from Shabistari's Gulshan-i Raz, Farid al-Din 'Attar (627 A.H. ?) a great mystic poet whose Mantaq al-Tair is an exposition of pantheistic mysticism. Here Iqbal is willing to be called a poet in the sense of a prophet who has a message of life to convey to the people.

5. Refers to the social decay of Muslim society.

6. "Heart" is used here as the capacity to understand and grasp Reality through intuitive perception in opposition to "head" which stands for intellectual apprehension. See Reconstruction of Religious Though in Islam, p. 15. For a similar use of the word "heart," see Ghazali, Ihya' at-Ulum, Vol. III, Chapter I, Part 1, PP. 3-5 (Urdu translation).

7. Tablet (=Lawh) refers to Lawh al Mazhfuz (Preserved Tablet) of the Qur'an (IXXXV. 22). According to the common Muslim belief, the destiny of everybody was written in the Preserved Tablet before the creation of the world. Lawh may refer to the forehead where, as it is believed, one's destiny is supposed to be written.

8. See Answer to Question 6 for what Iqbal understands by "lamentation." For pantheism, the highest ideal is the state of union; for Iqbal it does not consist in annihilation of the individual ego in the Ultimate Ego, but in maintaining its separate existence even in His Presence: in "separation" (which is here described as "hidden heart-sore") rather than in union. See Reconstruction.. p. 118; Iqbal Nama, Vol. II, pp. 215-17, where he discusses the relative significance of separation and union with reference to Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind Also see Iqbal, Vol. II, Nos. 2, 4.


1. "Thought" as light is intuitive insight and as fire is intellectual apprehension. Cf. Rumi:

Iblis (Satan), the embodiment of intellect, is made of fire (cf. Qur'an. vii. 12.), while man, in so far as he employs intuition, is the reflection of divine light.

2. The original word Aludah literally means polluted, contaminated. But association of the soul with material body, according to Iqbal, is not a fall but an opportunity. It is one of the different modes other. that Life adopts for its manifestation. See Answer to Question 3.

3. Reference is to the well-known incident in the history of Israelites when Moses threw his staff into the river which -sundered and made way for his followers to cross safely while being pursued by the army of the Pharaoh. See the Qur'an, xx. 77; xxvi. 61.

4. Sur the trumpet of Israfil, summoning mankind from their graves to Resurrection. Qur'an, xxvii. 85; xxxvi, 51-52, the world of self, both of

5. See note above.

6. This, in a nutshell, is the answer to the two questions. "Thought" has two aspects-light and fire, intuition and intellect. Both must be employed sin arises only when one is employed to the exclusion of the other,

7. Intuition grasps the "whole" of Reality while intellect proceeds by cutting it into parts.

8. Ma sawa means all that which is other (than God). It refers to transition from plurality to unity, from Many to One, under the guidance

9. "Both the worlds" refers to afaq and anfus, the world of nature and the world of self, both of which, according to the Qur'an, afford clue to the Ultimate Ego; cf. Iqbal, Reconstruction..., P. 127.

10. This is the main thesis of Iqbal's philosophy According to him the human ego should be the starting point of our inquiry into the world of nature as well as God, for in the inner recesses of the ego, as the mystics of all ages have testified, we get a direct glimpse of Reality.

11. Reference is to verse 4 8f Surah xii of the Qur'an where Joseph describes his dream of seeing the moon and eleven stars prostrating before him.

12. According to Iqbal, the true ideal is to link politics with mortality and religion. If political activity is divorced from moral consideration, the result will be anarchy as is noticeable in modern age. See Answer Question 3, lines 39-48.

13. Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, pp. 2-3- Italics mine.

14 Ibid., p 14.

15. Ihya', Vol. 1. Chap. 1. Part 2, PP- 30-31

16. PP- 14-15


1. When life, in its evolution, attains to the level of consciousness, it becomes aware of the material environment which, in its turn, gives depth and significance to the human ego. It is in the mutual action and reaction of the ego and the non-ego that the life of the individual develops. Cf. lines 187 ff. of Asar-i Khudi which are in the spirit of Fichte, the German -philosopher:

When the ego awoke to consciousness,
It revealed the world of thought.
A hundred worlds are hidden in its essence:
Consciousness of the ego brings non-ego to light.
It makes from itself the forms of others,
In order to multiply the pleasures of strife.

2. The external world is a chaos of scattered and unrelated flowers; it is we who integrate it into a coherent cosmos.

3. The problem of perception is a mystery in philosophy. The controversy between Realism and Idealism revolves round it. Cf. introductory remarks in Iqbal's article "Self in the Light of Relativity" published as an appendix in B.A. Dar, A Study in Iqbal's Philosophy. See also Joad, Guide go Modern Thought.

4. What Iqbal means to deny is not the existence but the seeming externality of the objects of perception. See line 21. See also Ishrat Hasan Enver, Metaphysics of Iqbal (Lahore. 1955), p. 51, footnote. Iqbal wants to emphasise the important contribution our minds in the process of perception. The external world is what it is because of the stamp that our minds inscribe-on it.

5. Reference is to the legend of Solomon and ants which are said to have helped the great prophet-king in one of his exploits. See the Qur'an, xxvii. 17-18.

6. The external world, the non-ego, may be the construction of the ego, yet it serves to develop human personality by affording opportunities of expansion. Study of Nature, as the Qur'an emphasises again and again, leads to the realisation of the Creator. For Iqbal, the world of matter is not evil as mystics of the old thought. "It enables inner powers of life to unfold themselves."!

7. Reference is to the legend of the Prophet Joseph who sent his shirt from Egypt to Kan'an for his father who is said to have been cured of his blindness through its fragrance. See the Qur'an, xii. 92. His father, Jacob, smelt the fragrance of this shirt while his sons were yet far away . from their home town in Kan'an.

8. Makan and la-Makan, literally world of space and the world beyond. Iqbal, like Bergson, thinks that our intellect is bound up with space and cannot transcend this limitation. Yet, in spite of this handicap, it has its utility we can control this world of nature through intellect. But through intuition it is possible to trancend this space-bound universe. He identifies this intuitive insight with what the Qur'an calls sultan (power)

"If you possess sultan, you can ascend through the skies." Cf. Iqbal's Reconstruction (P. 131) "It is the intellectual capture of and power over the concrete that makes it possible for the intellect of man to pass beyond the concrete. As the Quran says: "O Company of jinn and men, if you can overpass the bounds of the Heaven and the Earth, then overpass them. But by power alone shall ye overpass them.' (55 33 )

9. Reconstruction . - - PP- 40-41

10. Cf. Iqbal. "Self in the Light of Relativity"; also Reconstruction PP- 32-33- See lines 33-36.

11. Reconstruction..., P- 37.

12. Ibid., P.

13. Ibid., p. 91. 34.


1. Khwajah Nasir al-Din Tusi (597-672 A.H.), a great mathematician, astronomer, and thinker, who was attached to the court of Halaku Khan. Euclid was a famous Greek mathematician.

2. See note 8 of Answer to Question 2.

3. Reference is to the Qur'an (xxiv- 35): "God is the light of the Heaven and of the earth." In the light of the teaching of modern physics, Iqbal is able to repudiate pantheistic implications of this verse. Thus he says (Reconstruction p. 64) that "in the world of change, light is the nearest approach to the Absolute. The metaphor of light as applied to God, therefore, must, in view of modern knowledge, be taken to suggest the Absoluteness of God and not His Omnipresence."

4. Cf. Reconstruction. .,p. 64: "Modern science regards Nature not as something static, situate in an infinite void, but a structure of interrelated events out of whose mutual relations arise the concepts of space and time. And this is only another way of saying that space and time are interpretations which thought puts upon the creative activity of the Ultimate Ego. Space and time are possibilities of the Ego, only partially realized in the shape of our mathematical space and time. Beyond Him and apart from His creative activity, there is neither time nor space to close Him off in reference to other egos."

The universe has limits. but these limits are not to be conceived in terms of perceptual space and time. Commenting upon the Qur'anic verse Iv- 33 (quoted in note 8 of Answer to Question 2), Iqbal says, "The thought of a limit to perceptual space and time staggers the mind. in order to overpass its bounds the mind must overcome serial time and pure vacuity of perceptual space. 'And verily towards thy God is the limit,' says the Quran. It definitely suggests that the ultimate limit is to be sought not in the direction of stars, but in an infinite cosmic life and spirituality" (Reconstruction pp. 131-32). See Iqbal's article "Self in the Light of Relativity."

5. Zunnar, literally a cord or belt worn round the waist by Christians, Jews, or Persian Magi.

6. Iqbal is referring to the fact that Reality is changing and not static, is a whole and not made up of parts, and that mathematical time is not applicable to it.

7. Reference is to the Qur'anic verse xviii. 19. It refers to the People of the Cave who Went to sleep in a cave and there lay asleep for several years. When they awoke, they thought to have slept only for a day or so. Iqbal only wants to emphasise the difference between mathematical time and real time. See Reconstruction .... PP- 48-49, for an illustration of this distinction.

8. See Reconstruction . . . PP 153 ff.

9. "The ultimate Self, in the words of the Quran, 'can afford to dispense with all the worlds.' To Him the not-self does not present itself as a confronting 'other.'. . . What we call Nature or the not-self is only a fleeting moment in the life of God. His I-amness' is independent, elemental, absolute. Now a self is unthinkable without a character, i.e., a uniform mode of behaviour. Nature, as we have seen, is not a mass of pure materiality occupying a void. It is a structure of events, a systematic mode of behaviour, and as such organic to the ultimate Self. Nature is to the Divine Self as character is to the human self. In the picturesque phrase of the Quran, it is the habit of Allah" (Reconstruction . . , P. 56).

10. Reference is to the miracle attributed to Moses. Whenever he took his hand out of his armpit, it shone like a white light. See the Qur'an, vii. 108.

11. Reference is to the miracle attributed to Jesus of bringing the dead to life by his breath. See the Qur'an, iii- 49.

12. See Answer to Question 6.

13. Fakhr al-Din Razi (1149-1209 A.C ), the famous commentator of the Qur'an and philosopher. The sphere of the heart is not amenable to human intellect.

14. Aristotle and Bacon represent deductive and inductive types of science.

15. Reconstruction....., p. 56.

16. Ibid., PP 56-57. Ibid., p. 109.

17. Ibid., PP 197-98

18. Ibid., p. 109

19 P. 20.

20. P. 71


1. It is a protest against pantheistic creed of fana or absolute union of everything in the All, i.e. the extinction of a drop in the ocean. See note 8 of the Introduction.

2. Cf. Ibn al-Arabi's saying, "God is a percept ; the world is a concept" (Reconstruction . . . . p. 183).

3. Cf. Reconstruction .... p. 118, where Iqbal says that the perfect ego "is able to retain full self-possession, even in the case of a direct contact with the all-embracing Ego."

4. Reconstruction..., P 103

5. Ibid.. p. 118.

6. Ibid.


1. According to the pluralistic philosophy of Iqbal, the basic manifestations of life are individuals of different sorts and grades. As he says in his letter to Nicholson reproduced in the Introduction to the English translation of Asrar-i Khudi (p. xii), "All life is individual ; there is no such thing as universal life. God Himself is an individual. He is the most unique individual."

2. I.e. second birth. The same problem of spiritual regeneration is discussed more fully in Javid Namah, pp. 15-16.

3. See note 3 of Answer to Question 1.

4 It refers to the well-known miracle of the Prophet Muhammad.

5. "Travelling into self," the second birth, is what the mystics usually call unitary experience, experience of the light of the Ultimate Ego. But while the mystic does not wish to forego this experience and remains submerged in its delights, the prophet returns. "He returns to insert, himself into the sweep of time with a view to controlling the forces of history, and thereby to create a fresh world of ideals" (Reconstruction P- 124). Such a type of prophetic experience is noticeable in the life of Ghazali and Rumi.

6. Reference is to the following verse, 'Verily We proposed to the Heavens and to the earth and to the mountains to receive the trust (of personality), but they refused the burden and they feared to receive it. Man alone undertook to bear it, but hath proved unjust, senseless (33 72) (Reconstruction P. 11)

7. Cf ibid., p.118: "The finite ego must be distinct, though not isolated, from the Infinite."

8. Refers to human body.


1. Lord of Badr refers to Prophet Muhammad. The Battle of Badr was the first successful war waged by Muslims against the unbelievers. The saying is a well-known tradition.

2. It refers to the doctrine held by Iqbal and Bergson that determinism is due to body and intellect while with regard to soul, man is free. As long as man remains at the level of what Iqbal calls efficient self, he is subject to mechanical causation, but as soon as the appreciative self comes into play, be becomes fully free. See Reconstruction .. .. .. PP 47, 48, 109.

3. See note 8 of the Introduction and Answer to Question 3.

4. Khashah . =small bits of wood, chips, straw, chaff.

5. Translation of lines 57-66 was done by Iqbal himself in his article "McTaggart's Philosophy."

6. Munkar and Nakir, two angels, who, according to tradition, visit the dead in the graves and question them to test their faith.


1. Mahi - literally fish that is supposed to lie at the bottom of the earth and on which this terrestrial globe is said to be resting.

2. See note 3 of the Answer to Question 4 "And the climax of this development is reached when the ego is able to retain full self-possession, even in the case of a direct contact with the all-embracing Ego. As the Quran says of the Prophet's vision of the Ultimate Ego : 'His eye turned not aside, nor did it wander' (53 : 17). This is the ideal of perfect manhood in Islam" (Reconstruction ..., p. 118).

3. Reference is to the Qur'anic verse (vii. 143).

4. Shaikh, a mystic saint ; faqih, a learned theologian ; mullah, a theologian of shallow knowledge.

5. It refers to the ' gold hunger" of the modern Western society. See Reconstruction .., P 187

6. Reconstruction..., P- 197.


1. See Iqbal's article "Self in the Light of Relativity."

2. Translation of lines 31-39, 41-45 and 47-48 was done by Iqbal himself in his article "McTaggart's Philosophy."

3. Shankaracharya, the famous pantheistic commentator of Vedanta Sutra. Mansur, i.e. Husain bin Mansur Hallaj, whose cry of an al-Haqq was wrongly interpreted by the Muslim mystics pantheistically.

4. It is Iqbal's version of the old mystic saying, "He who knows self, knows God.

5. Reconstruction p. 96.

6. Reconstruction " " p. 120.


1. Reference is to the Qur'anic verse (vi. 77) where Abraham declares that he does not like (to worship) the things that set, referring to the setting of the stars, moon, and the sun.

2. "Am I not your Lord?" and "Yes". are references to the Qur'anic verse vii. 173 where the story of the sacred pre-natal Covenant is related.

3. Translation of lines 47-5( was done by Iqbal himself in his article "McTaggart's Philosophy."


1. See note 10 of Answer to Question 3.


1. Haram is the sanctuary of Ka'bah which is famous for its sweet. water well, Zam-zam. As tradition relates, it appeared miraculously to quench the thirst of child Ismail.

2. Jamshed is the mythical king of ancient Persia. He possessed a cup which was said to reveal the mysteries of the world.

3. Adhar was the father (according to another tradition, uncle) of Abraham. Adhar represents idol-worship, polytheism, as opposed to Abraham who stands for worship of one God, monotheism.

4. Kkirqah is the customary patched gown worn by mystic-dervishes.

5. Israfil is an angel who, as tradition relates, will blow his trumpet and the dead will arise from their graves.

6. Moses possessed a miraculous hand which shone brightly and therefore called White Hand and a miraculous staff which helped him in diverse ways.

7. Lat and Manat are the names of two idols worshipped by the Arabs in the days of Ignorance.

8. See note 3 on p. 68. Abraham is idol-breaker while Adhar is idol maker and idol-worshipper.