Allama Iqbal, “New World Order” and the Urgent Need of Unity of Religions
The saddest part of modern Indian History is its Partition, and one of the most unfortunate effects of Partition was that even the common Heritage of Undivided India got partitioned. After Partition, Pakistan bestowed a national status on Allama Iqbal. The poet of the “Saare Jahaan se Achcha Hindostaan Hamara”, after several years of his death in undivided India, become more Pakistani than Indian. India on the other hand chose Ghalib as its Shair and Iqbal became relatively less important for the political set up, if not for the Urdu lovers.
But Iqbal was not a poet in the ordinary sense. He was more of a philosopher whose love for Quran inspired in him love for the whole mankind. He was perhaps one of the few Indians who felt the threat from the emerging New World Order based on the negation of God and religion. He had foreseen in the rise of West the doom for the humanity. In his article entitled, “Iqbal’s Envisioned New World Order” Prof. Abdul Moghni1 says:
“Allama Iqbal was certainly a visionary. He was a philosopher as well as a poet, and was no less of a statesman. In all these capacities, he was one of the greatest thinkers of his time. During the first half of the 20th century, he wrote, spoke and acted copiously in a manner to reassure as well as warn the world about its future. About half a century earlier than the modern world powers, Iqbal envisaged a new world order for an enduring international peace, universal liberty, global fraternity and equality of man with man, in general.
In this respect, he was acutely critical of the western politics and way of life dominating the world at the time he had started writing and gone to Europe for higher education. There is a lyric, dated March 1907, in the first collection of his Urdu poems, Bang-e-Dara (peal of the Gong), when he was still in Europe where he had gone in 1904, having got himself admitted to Cambridge in England. Several lines from that early work indicate his assessment of the situation prevailing in the very beginning of the present century,
دیارِ مغرب کے رہنے والو! خدا کی بستی دُکاں نہیں ہے
کَھرا جسے تم سمجھ رہے ہو، وہ اب زرِ کم عیار ہو گا
تمہاری تہذیب، اپنے خنجر سے آپ ہی خودکشی کرے گی
جو شاخِ نازک پہ آشیانہ بنے گا ناپائیدار ہو گا
(Dayaar-e maGrib ke rahne waalo, KHuda ki basti dukaaN nahiN hai
KhaRi jise tum samajh rahe ho, wo ab zar-e kam ayaar hoga
Tumhaari tahzeeb apne KHanjar se aap hi KUdkushee karegi
Jo shaaKH-e naazuk pe aashyaana banega naapaaydaar hoga)
O the inhabitants of the West, God’s world is not a shop,
What you have been taking as pure will now prove false gold
Your culture will kill itself with its own sword,
The nest built on a delicate bough will not last.”
Fasad-e-Qalb-o-Nazar Hai Farang Ki Tehzeeb
Ke Rooh Iss Madniyat Ki Reh Saki Na Ufeef
(The Western culture depraves both heart and vision,
Because the soul of that culture is no longer chaste.)
Rahe Na Rooh Mein Pakeezgi To Hai Na-Paid
(With a corrupted soul one cannot expect
To have a clean conscience, high thinking and refined tastes.)
He says, “Civilization of the west is perversion of heart and mind. Since its soul could not remain unpolluted. When the soul loses its purity everything goes, cleanliness of conscience, loftiness of mid, refinement of taste.”
Iqbal refers again and again to the godless character of the western philosophy of life whose foundation is laid on the intolerance of religion and ethics and the favorite pastime of which during all the stages of history, has been the carving of new images. Annihilation of man is the profession of this civilization and trade and commerce its sole aim occupation.
He further says:
Europe, alas, is ignorant of this state,
With the light of ALLAH its eye does not see;
Not between the allowed and the prohibited it makes a distinction,
Its wisdom is immature and mission incomplete.
It makes one community devour the other,
One sow the seeds, another reaps the harvest;
In snatching bread from the weak its wisdom lies,
And in taking away life from his brother”s frame.
The target of modern civilization is man himself who is the source of its energy the animation and instrument of its commerce and industry. The mounting expenditures and rising cost of living are the creation of Jewish cunning which have robbed mankind of the light of faith. The world of profit, trade, deceit and turpitude is crumbling fast and new world is struggling to take its place.
“But now a new world is born, the old world is dying,
The world the dice-throwers of Europe have made a gambling den”
I grew him reading his poetry and it was partly if not wholly this influence, which slowly and steadily strengthened in me the will to challenge the concepts of the New World Order through an alliance of all religions, which I have been advocating for quite some time, against the life and peace threatening vices of the “New World Order”, which revolve around what I call Economic Fundamentalism.
During the last few centuries, especially in the wake of Industrial Revolution, businessmen have organised themselves into an aggressive, domineering, dextrous, ingenious and inexorable class. It has, wrongfully or rightfully but successfully, mastered all the new information, techniques and opportunities available to it for the protection and expansion of its interests. This is where economic fundamentalism begins to emerge. Now, unlike in the past, businessmen are no more weak and submissive. They are not the cranes any more waiting for the prey but the leopards that want to rule and roar to capture the prey. Not any longer are they the bootlickers of the rulers they used to be; they have now mastered the art of manoeuvring them into submission. Not any more are they the silent followers of the rule of law; they have become articulate votaries of such modifications in the political, social and the legal systems as better suit their interests. It is this assertive, aggressive, cunning, provident and ruthlessly selfish approach towards economics, which breeds what I have termed Economic Fundamentalism.
Economics is surely one of the essential constituents of human life. Without money, one cannot survive. We need coins for food, drinks, clothes, house, treatment, entertainment, marriage, bringing up of children, their education; even for funeral. But the problems arise when money is assumed to be the only essential of life. Economics is the stomach that supplies food for the body. It cannot and must not become the heart and the brain. For a wholesome living, good relations among the members of family and society, proper spiritual and moral development and proper environment are also needed. Love for money is nice till it does not disturb mental, family and social peace. But as soon as it transforms into lust encroaching upon others’ spheres in terms of its impact, it becomes curse. When the lust for making money becomes organised, its effects on society are bound to be devastating. And when this organisation turns global using highly advanced information and technology available to it, mankind faces imminent ruin.
It can be seen that economic fundamentalism is becoming increasingly aggressive with every passing day. All the possible weapons were and are being employed for this purpose: persuasion, advertising, misinformation, defamation, bribing, manoeuvring and use of power. The ballistic missiles of their money-power have proved to be too destructive for the resistant elements to withstand. Through persuasion or threats, they are either overpowered or purchased. The opposing forces have failed owing not only to the lack of resources but also to the glaring deficiency of will and spirit. What has further paralysed them is innumerable divisions in their ranks, based on religion, region, race, ideology and language. The economic fundamentalists are now, virtually, the rulers of the world. Their trumpet blows everywhere — from the north to the south and from the west to the east.
In short, from historical standards, the rise and growth of economic fundamentalism has been quite rapid taking hardly a few centuries. The think-tank of the world of economic fundamentalism has taken innumerable steps to strengthen their hold. They have sacrificed the goddess of justice before the eyes of the Statue of Liberty. They have transformed through political manoeuvres the state into their estate. They have incessantly and relentlessly been trying to organise a grand farewell for religion. They have captivated the people’s imagination through the media. They have got the attire of society redesigned so that it looks gorgeous and inviting to their eyes. They have industrialised sex, in which they have discovered the hen which always lays golden eggs. They have relocated the entire educational set-up on the Wall Street. They have monopolised the tree of economy. Its fruits and shadows are only theirs; others can only admire its beauty from a safe distance. They have taken science and technology as their mistresses, ever keen to offer their glorious best to them. They have nipped all the challenges in the buds by masterminding the popular movements. They have lynched the ‘civilisation’, which has been given a new incarnation; and now Bohemians are called civilised. Last but not the least, they have been busy colonising the good earth in the name of globalisation.
The result of ignoring the Divine Guidance has led to the development of a strange kind of world, which appears to be paradise from outside, but as one enters it, one finds nothing but hell. We are living in a world where, thanks to the designs of merchants, immorality reigns, where it is easier to be bad than good, where wearing a scarf is banned and baring the body is promoted, where being a wife or husband is outdated and being a bed partner is smartness, where piety is ridiculed and impudence glorified, where prosperity is considered to be the synonym of peace, education that of knowledge and entertainment that of happiness, where condoms are presented as wonderful little bags possessing everything required for a wholesome life. We are living in a world where children are aborted in the name of women’s rights, where murderers and rapists are protected in the name of ‘right to life,’ where, criminals are given all amenities of life in the name of human rights, where, sexual perverts receive all kinds of sympathy and attention, where those talking of righteousness in life are condemned as “bloody moralists”, where, the media do everything to change the choices of the people, but if some reformer tries to warn them against evils, he is dubbed as a retrogressive who has no business to teach lessons of good behaviour to the people. Alcohol, smoking, gambling and unrestrained-sex are considered to be the biggest symbols of liberty, brothels, beaches, bars and casinos the citadels of “freedom”. One third of the total population of the world smokes, millions of people take drugs, millions drink and gamble and a sizeable percentage indulges in all forms of unhealthy sexual behaviour, including promiscuity, homosexuality, purchased sex, etc. In short, we are inhabitants of a world where the biggest virtue is to openly indulge in the biggest sin; and the biggest sin is to try to exhibit virtuousness.
Throughout the history, religion has played a significant role in the individual and social affairs of human beings. For most of the people that flourished in different regions of the planet earth and in different eras, faith has been a sine qua non for their existence. In spite of the fact that religion has more often than not been defiled or contaminated by the self seeking clerics, it has earnestly and relentlessly endeavoured to discipline life by erecting the ethical fence around it. It has almost been a periodical phenomenon that the prophets and sages arrived with sublime messages of highest virtues, and no sooner did they depart than their followers successively adulterated them with immoralities and indecencies. Still, it is an irrefutable truth that it is mainly owing to the strong influences on human minds and hearts wielded by religion that truth, honesty, sacrifice for others, justice and mercy have always been regarded as commendable virtues in society even if the constituent members of society have not generally put them into any remarkable degree of practice. What is indisputably commendable is that religion assisted mankind in overcoming dilemma of routine life at a time when it was not advanced enough to objectively discriminate between the right and wrong. In the midst of all-pervading gloom, the solitary torch of religion shone; whoever had the eyes to observe it, darkness made exit from his life.
The faiths which have been dominant in the world during last few millennia – Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism. Christianity, Islam and Sikhism — all, without exception, have magnified moral values. No religion preaches falsehood, dishonesty, cheating, bribery, hatred, violence, adultery and fornication. Each of them eschews, albeit in varying degrees, this-worldliness. Jainism and Buddhism condemn this life altogether; Christianity promotes celibacy; and Islam, while permitting necessities and enjoyment of life within the prescribed limits, promotes love for other-worldliness. Religion aims at achieving mental peace and gives less importance to material gains. This principle applies to all religions, and this is what annoys the economic fundamentalists most because the promotion of materialism reigns supreme in their scheme of things. Their plan cannot succeed unless people became least entangled in moral dilemma and the love of this worldliness ravishes that of the other-worldliness. If honesty rules the roost in their life, sex outside the ambit of marriage is considered immoral and illegal, self-sacrifice lords over their hearts and minds and deceit and falsehood haunt their conscience, how would they be persuaded to “enjoy” the “comforts of life” the merchants seek to market with great fanfare.
It first happened in Europe where the business monarchs involved in rapid industrialization realised the compelling need to marginalise religion. Christianity was their obvious target. They sought to minimise its influence in the affairs of the state. With the growing fortunes of the industrialists, the monarchs were now better placed to back a campaign for the separation of Church and Establishment, a demand that had been voiced even in the past but without much of a success. The time was now ripe to push ahead as the rulers and the industrialists could now act in tandem. The rift between this-worldliness and otherworldliness led to the emergence of the concept of secularism. Secularism as a movement began at the time of Renaissance and was aimed at directing society from other-worldliness to this-worldliness. It was presented as an ideology that exhibited the development of humanism and the growth of man’s interest in human cultural achievements. It has been in progress during the entire course of modern history and the critics have rightly viewed it as primarily anti-Christian and anti-religion. The clerics resisted the move but their efforts to stall the march of economic fundamentalism in the garb of secularism proved futile. In the process, secularism achieved the remarkable feat of “emancipating” the state from the “clutches” of religion. One European country after the other started adopting secularism. The economic fundamentalists had won a major battle.
The estrangement of Church and Establishment was only one step though extremely crucial towards the goal the economic fundamentalist had set for themselves. They envisaged complete marginalisation of religion and the morality it stood for in the social lives of men and women. They knew it well that even if the state was persuaded to adopt an irreligious approach in socioeconomic matters, the ultimate success lay in the generation of demands for the industrial products. To multiply demands materialism was required to be glorified; and for the rise of materialism religion was the greatest obstacle. This realization was responsible for the sustained tirade against the clergy, and against whatever religion championed for. In Communism, religion and God were totally unacceptable. In Western countries ruled by Capitalistic forces, it was considered strategically more expedient and less risky to campaign for privatisation of religion rather than exhibiting open contempt for it. It was argued that faith was an absolutely personal matter and men and women might engage in as many rituals as they liked; but in other arenas, particularly the social, economic and political, the involvement of religion must be shunned and those mixing the two must be condemned, and if needed, adequately punished.
The growth of Secularism in India was on a different pedestal altogether. Unlike West and many Islamic countries like 20th century-Turkey and Egypt, it was not primarily aimed at the negation of religion. It was more a product of the plural nature of Indian society composed of several religious groups and sects many of which have considerably large population in the country. Nor secularism in India chose to deny after-life. In contrast, it developed as an ideology of the state which gives due respect to all religions but will not have any religion of its own. A secular person in India need not be anti-religion or non-religious. He may in fact be a devout practitioner of the rituals and values preached by religion. His secular credentials become disputable only when he, by speech or action, shows disregard for the other religious communities, or spreads hatred against them. Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Mohd. Ali Johar, Pt. J.B.Pant — all these political stalwarts were, either devout Hindus, or devout Muslims and still secular to the core. The opposite of ‘secular’ in India has not been, as in the west, sacred but communal.
The unfortunate feature of the whole history of the decline of religion in most parts of the world, especially as a dominant social force, was that the protagonists of all the religions assumed an outright defensive posture. Their defence of religion was generally weak and ineffective as they attempted to use the same criteria as their detractors had laid down for examining the religious beliefs and practices. They often turned apologetic in their arguments. Most of the protagonists of religions, in addition, exhibit sectarian bias. Instead of focusing on the faults and discrepancies of the new dispensations that are numerous, they continue to dissipate their energies in erecting defences around their faiths. We are not much interested in promoting our religion or religious values and more interested in creating aversion about other religions and other religious communities. Indian protagonists of religions are interested in promoting only those parts of their religion that can help in arousing hatred for other communities. We have become communal rather than religious. We talk of religious symbols more than religious morality and those religious symbols become paramount for us which have the potential of creating aversion for the other communities. The truth is that Communalism has nothing to do with religion; it is the product of Political Fundamentalism, which uses religious identity for political gains. What we need instead is the religionization of polity where political leaders believe more in religious morality rather than religious identity and divisive symbols.
Though the virtues like probity, self esteem, patience, endurance and truthfulness are also unwelcome, what particularly annoys the economic fundamentalists is insistence in religion on taboos. The practices forbidden by different religions are obviously such as tend to lure, mesmerise and addict the humans. These cause temporary pleasures, which may sooner or later be followed by undesirable effects, often severe, on person, family and society. The very fact that they had to be prohibited indicated the culpability of the people for them. They rapidly transform their users or practitioners into physical or psychological dependants. Every religion has its prohibitions. Many of them are common with other religions. Almost all disapprove sex outside marriage between males and females, alcohol, gamblimg, murder, theft and bribery.. But the economic fundamentalists had little concern for the welfare of the individual or society. They could foresee extraordinary scope, once the outlets are open in these taboos, for their commercial aggrandisement. It would however not be easy till religion retained a central position in society. The privatisation of religion was therefore a compelling necessity for them.
The country today – in fact the whole world—neither needs communalists nor liberalists. Liberalists believe in absolute freedom of choice, which is the master plan of the forces of economics aimed at commercialisation of human susceptibilities. Science, particularly medical sciences clearly prove that the uncontrolled freedom of choice is a dangerous concept which leads to huge loss of lives throughout the world. Both mortality and morbidity related to the freedom in eating, drinking and sexual behaviour are huge, with more than 70 million people dying as a result of the problems created by these practices. Religion on the other hand is almost on the same plane as medical sciences with most religions effectively banning or restricting these dangerous practices. Medical sciences, as I have argued in my latest book, “Dynamic Paradigm of Health” are unequivocal in telling the mankind that the safest option for the survival of human species in a safe and healthy environment with equal benefit to men, women and children, is through a well-established marriage system between males and females. Liberalists of course have other ideas. In the name of distorted and unhealthy notions of freedom and equality, they are not only condoning the death of millions of humans and humans-in-making but are also endangering the very survival of human species. Their argument in favour of the theories of creation is also fallacious because theories of creation are less scientific and more economic theories promoted by the economic fundamentalists who do not tolerate God in sciences.
India needs religion – in its pristine form. India cannot afford a polity without religion. Religion resides in every sphere of India’s existence. The overwhelming majority of Indians believe in religion. They may have different methods of worship but they all believe in God. They all are firm believers in the family system and the devotion and loyalty that goes along with family. Unfortunately, religion has ceased to play the social role it must play. The polity is controlled by the forces for whom nothing matters but money and power. In order to further their interests, they are promoting a kind of liberalism, which hardly few Indians relish. Yet, anyone countering the liberalists is dismissed with contempt by the media controlled by the forces of economics.
West can certainly claim that it is the most developed part of the world in terms of scientific and technological advancement, quality of infrastructure within their countries and prosperity and power. Had these attainments resulted in freedom from violence, within and abroad, righteousness among people with clear distinction between beneficial and harmful practices and attitudes, respect and loyalty to relationships, value of human life and sympathetic behaviour towards smaller nations, West could definitely have also laid its claim to civilisation. But ah! Its economic, political and military power was not only achieved through not only genuine but also wrongful ways, it has also misused them with colossal destruction of human lives and peaceful living. The bright stars of the horizon of Westernism have all degenerated into bla`ck holes – Democracy into Corporatocracy, Secularism into negation of religious conscience, freedom into license to commit evils and human rights into the defence of criminals and perverts. Despite its prosperity and power, West has been responsible for ——-
• most of the wars in last century, most of deaths in those wars, consuming more than 160 million lives
• most invasions; including colonisations at a massive scale;
• most attacks on countries including attacks on civilians;
• the only nuclear attacks made on the surface of the earth;
• destruction of aborigines in big numbers;
• most deaths in Muslim countries including more than 1million in the last decade;
• deaths of at least 200 million foetuses in last 10 years;
• huge number of murders and rapes (one fourth to one half of women having experienced rapes) within their countries;
• huge alcohol and gambling related deaths;
• rising number of deaths related to AIDS;
• several million suicides (highest in the world).
Western system has also led to behaviours leading to total disintegration of family system with
• up to 50 pc of abortion rates;
• up to 50 pc children born out of wedlock;
• at least 30 pc children living in single parent homes;
• ever increasing number of gay couples.
Western system has also been responsible for
• huge increase in business related to sex, alcohol, gambling and organised violence; with huge effects on health, family and society;
• maximum damage to environment, causing massive damage;
• maximum economic disparity within the countries and among the countries;
• monopolisation of world resources; and
• stockpiling of weapons of massive destruction.
Can anybody deny these facts? How can then West make even a small claim to civilisation?
However, it is not the Western people who are primarily responsible for it. They are as good and as bad as any people can be on the surface of the earth. Like all people, they too become the victims of the designs of the few who tend to reign and rule the countries, societies and communities. Like all the people most of the time they have failed to realise what their masters are up to. Like all the people though, one day will come, hopefully sooner than later, when they will realise the vices of the system that has brought havoc in their lives and the lives of their brothers and sisters in rest of the humankind. Hopefully they will rise to the occasion and challenge the system that has claimed to give them certain prosperity but has ravished peace, has claimed to give them freedom but through this freedom has made them addicts of dangerous practices and attitudes and has made them perpetual captives of their ever increasing material needs.
But religion will not resurrect itself unless all the communities resurrect their faith in the social dimension of religion. They will have to abandon communalism. The devouts of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikihism, Jainism, and any other religion that exists here, will have to learn to live together, to abandon mistrust in one another, to care for the genuine demands of all and to give rights to all to live their lives in accordance with their culture. Above all, they have to learn that religion calls for service to the whole mankind, and not merely one’s own community. The parties like BJP, Muslim League and Akali Dal can still function. They can continue to fight for the genuine demands of specific communities but they will have to abandon forever hatred for other communities.
Religion is a binding, not a disintegrating force. Islam and Hinduism are one of the four leading religions of the world in terms of the population of their followers. The overwhelming majority of Hindu population lives in India, with smaller populations in countries like Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji, South Asian and other countries. Muslims of India form the beigest majority of global Muslim population perhaps only after Indonesia. Muslims and Hindus combined form around 40 percent population of the world. Despite differences on theological level, they share common values in terms of most social and family matters. Many Islamic scholars tend to believe Hinduism in its original form as the older version of Islam, and never show disrespect to Hindu figures like Rama and Krishna. Hindus with the exception of few hardcore Islam bashers respect Islamic Prophet and saints. Most of the times, they live in harmonious relations with one another. In times of communal tensions, they tend to get suspicious about one another. More often than not, the tensions and hostilities do not last long, and people are back to working relationships.
The religionists have to understand the role of the economic fundamentalists and the games they play in tandem with politicians, bureaucrats and academicians. Their designs in commercialising human weaknesses, creating unbridled consumerism and negating religious morality for the sake of economic and political hegemony is not only to be unveiled but confronted at every level and in every possible way. Once the religious forces understand the dynamics of the current economic and political order, they will become a cohesive unit respecting rather than hating one another. This can be achieved only if all the religions, especially Hinduism and Islam in India with the addition of Christianity at the global level; combine on common grounds and learn to respect the rights of one another. If they start working for God rather than for their selfish ends, the destination will be reached sooner than later. If they fail, they will not only be angering God but will also be destroying their own future generations.
My Vision of India and I believe it is the same as that of the whole nation, is as follows:
1. India as a secular country, where every religion is given respect, disrespect to religious figures and books is not permitted, there is no discrimination on the ground of religion, and all religions and religious communities cooperate with one another in building a cleaner, purer, healthier, more peaceful and more prosperous India.
2. India on High Moral Pedestal: Where moral, family and social values are protected and promoted where the system acts as health and peace-protective mechanism; where social evils such as alcohol and drugs, gambling and betting and unhealthy sexual practices like prostitution, promiscuity, pornography and homosexuality are not only recognised as evils but effective measures are taken at every possible level to eradicate these evils including a campaign on war-footing against commercialisation of human weaknesses.
3. India as a Country with Genuine Equality: Where all forms of economic disparity including region to region disparity, state to state, community to community, urban-rural, etc. are kept at minimum possible levels.
4. India as a Secure Country: Where security issues are given top priority including crimes of all types, riots of all types, all other forms of violence including terrorism; crimes against women; corruption etc.;
5. India as a Citadel of Peace; which fights against all the attempts of hegemony by world powers; and comes to the aid of the poor and weak nations.
6. India as a Prosperous Country; which achieves prosperity through proper and genuine means and where the fruits of developments are shared by all its citizens; and
7. Where all communities do play a Meaningful Role in the Development of the Country becoming part in the efforts as well as the fruits, and they are allowed to play their role without violation of their religious and cultural beliefs and without discrimination and security concerns.
Author is Head of Chair in Islamic Studies and Research, Yenepoya University, Manglore.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.