Explanatory Note

Question 1 of Iqbal corresponds to Questions 1 and 2 of -Shabistari. While discussing the problem of thought, both Iqbal and Shabistari are, generally speaking, on the common ground. According to Shabistari, thought, i.e. logical reasoning, is incapable of transcending the phenomenal sphere. The world of noumena, being beyond time, space, and cause, is inaccessible to intellect. All different conceptions about God like tashbih, tanzih, halul, are defective; philosophers, Mu’tazilites, Kalamists, and externalists are in the wrong. The only course then is to pass beyond sense and reason, as Abraham passed beyond the worship of the stars, moon, and sun, which, in the words of Shabistari, represent "senses, imagination, and reason," or like Moses who was asked to throw down his staff which act he interprets as transcending the sensuous sources of knowledge.

Spiritual illumination alone will help in realising the true nature of Reality. But has this illumination any relation with intellect? To Shabistari, there is none at all. In order to reach illumination, he thinks, one must divest oneself of all kinds of relations and attachments. But to Iqbal both these things are necessary. To confine oneself to intellect is as defective as to rely solely on intuition; the two must be used as complementary sources. Intuition that is not based on and is not a continuation of intellectual efforts is totally fruitless. Discussing the relation of the two, Iqbal says, "Nor is there any reason to suppose that thought and intuition are essentially opposed to each, other. They spring up from the same root and complement each other. The one grasps Reality piecemeal, the other grasps it in its wholeness.

The One fixes its gaze on the eternal, the other on the temporal aspect of Reality. The one is present enjoyment of the whole of Reality; the other aims at transversing the whole by slowly specifying and closing up the various regions of the whole for exclusive observation. Both are in need of each other for mutual rejuvenation. Both seek vision of the same Reality which reveals itself to them in accordance with their function in life. In fact, intuition, as Bergson rightly says, is only a higher kind of intellect."13

About the second question, Shabistari holds that human reason can help us only so far as the works and attributes of God are concerned; it is useless for contemplation of the Pure, Essence. "His signs are illumined through His Essence; therefore it is impossible to grasp intellectually His Essence through His signs." For this we will have to take the help of intuition. According to him, the world of Nature (afaq) is subservient to God's Will which no scientist can hope to discover, and the world of self (anfus) is equally unsusceptible to human thought and logic, and therefore we should cease to think of self. But, according to Iqbal, this is the most defective aspect of the mystic doctrine of intuition. Immersed in the spiritual intricacies of the "heart," the mystic forgets the demands of the external world. As Shabistari himself admits, the worlds of anfus and afaq equally reflect divine Light and the quest of man to understand Reality cannot be confined to one sphere only. Iqbal says, "According to the Quran . . . the universe has a serious end. Its shifting actualities force our being into fresh formations. The intellectual effort to overcome the obstruction offered by it, besides enriching and amplifying our life, sharpens our insight, and thus prepares us for a more masterful insertion into subtler aspects of human experience. It is our reflective contact with. the temporal flux of things which trains us for an intellectual vision of the non-temporal. Reality lives in its own appearances; and such a being as man, who has to maintain his life in an obstructing environment, cannot afford to ignore the Visible."14

But which is to come first, intuition or intellect? Iqbal suggests that the world of the heart should first be controlled; for through this control man can hope to attain a vision of God. After this achievement, the conquest of the world of Nature would be quite easy. In other words, intuition should come first and intellectual efforts afterwards, or a man should move from within to without. This view is in agreement with the mystic stand, as, e.g., advocated by Shaikh Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi. He looked upon majdhub-salik as the fit person to become a spiritual guide, i.e. one who first receives kashf or illumination and then passes on to intellectual application of his vision. But Ghazali thought otherwise. According to him, a salik-majdhub or a scientist-mystic is better. He illustrates it by reference to the life of Junaid, the well-known mystic saint. Junaid relates that once his preceptor asked him : Where do you go after attending my assembly? He replied that he went to Harith Muhasibi's. The latter was a great lawyer of religious science (faqih) as well as a mystic. The preceptor nodded his approval. Then he added: May God enable you to become a mystic after you have attained knowledge and not the other way round! Commenting on this statement, Ghazali says that he who attains intuitive insight after he has gone through intellectual discipline is the right sort of person, while he who traverses the mystic path before undergoing that discipline is sure to be led astray.15 The history of mysticism amply bears out the truth of Ghazali's judgement. In the Reconstruction, however, Iqbal too supports this point of view of Ghazali. He says, "The cultures of Asia and, in fact, of the whole ancient world failed, because they approached Reality exclusively from within and moved from within outward. This procedure gave them theory without power, and on mere theory no durable civilization can be based."16

[See Notes]