Allama Iqbal and Zoroastrian Dualism

Allama Iqbal and Zoroastrian Dualism

Professor Waheed Uz Zaman Tariq

Let there remain no confusion on this topic and remove any misunderstanding about he beliefs and Islamic ideology projected by Allama Iqbal. He was a diehard Muslim believer and a great scholar, visionary, poet, teacher and philosopher. He had studied the sciences of Islam, in their original form, by going through all possibly available sources. He discussed many issues with men of knowledge, in person or by correspondence. His main idea was to revive Islam as a thriving force and prove it religious truth and jurisprudence in the light of modern sciences. He wanted to make the youth of his nation self-conscious, confident and educated.

As regards to Zoroastrianism, his interest was diverted during his doctoral research and he maintained this interest, throughout his life. In no way, he moulded his ideology, on that basis. He used his knowledge of that ancient religion to identify elements of the old creeds, present in the prevailing ideas of his contemporary scholars as well existing philosophical texts of Muslim writers. He was aware the negativity of such polluting ideas.  In these two fields; Zoroastrianism and Allama Iqbal’s philosophy, I have spent a major part of my life in studies and research. He analysed the developments, which took place in that region and the way they affected the early days of Muslim thinkers and theologians.

Allama Iqbal's thoughts do not bear resemblance with the hard-core philosophy of Zoroastrianism, as well as he beliefs of its sects, like Zurvanism, Kumrithia and Mithraism. He studied Manichean and Mazdakite religions and referred to their impact on the society and made a critical analysis. Where he highlighted their positive side, he did not hesitate in unveiling their detrimental effect which had taken place.

Allama Iqbal had rejected all kinds of paganism, polytheism, dualism, trinity, pantheism and naturalism. He had firmly stood for Tauheed (monotheism) of Islam. His concepts differed from those of so-called Ahl-e-Tauheed (as Mutazalites called themselves), Carmathians (قرامطہ) and Deruz (دروز), who were self-proclaimed champions of Tauheed, in their own way. They took the matter of Tauheed, as topic of discussion of their Theosophy (علم الکلام) ۔ Allama Iqbal has vehemently rejected all such stained and tainted views.

زندہ قوت تھی جہاں میں یہی توحید کبھی

آج کیا ہے؟ فقط اک مسئلہ علم کلام

روشن اس ضو سے اگر ظلمت کردار نہ ہو

خود مسلماں سے ہے پوشیدہ مسلماں کا مقام

"In this world. The same Tauheed, which once had been a living force, is today a matter of theosophical discussions.

If the personal character is not illuminated by it (Tauheed), to counter the darkness of morality, the Muslim may not become aware of his own worth and place.”

His references to earlier religions, the way he made in his poetry, lectures and prose, were in the light of history of Islam, when it made an encounter with existing creeds of the time. Some of those religions were undoubtedly divine in origin. Allama Iqbal considered original puritan form of Zoroastrianism as divine in essence. To begin with, it was a monotheistic religion but subsequently,  it was taken over by waves of dualistic ideology. Similarly, the Dualism was adopted by Manichean priesthood as well Mazdakite activists, which were breakaway creeds of Zoroastrianism.

The Dualism was a topic of discussion of Muslim thinkers. Mirza Ghalib, with all his immense wisdom and understanding says about it:

اسے کون دیکھ سکتا کہ یگانہ ہے وہ یکتا

جو دوئی کی بو بھی ہوتی تو کہیں دوچار ہوتا

"Who can see Him, as He is one and unique. If there had been some element of Dualism, both deities would have torn each other into pieces and become visible."

According to Allama Iqbal, when Islam was revealed as a divine religion, the official Persian religion of Zoroastrianism had undergone a serious phenomenon of decay. Ultimately, by a complexity of repetitive rituals, the  privileged class of priesthood was exploiting the masses. The Persians imperial systems, bureaucracy, judiciary and ideology had aged, over the centuries. Therefore, the creed and culture were no more fit to thrive. The dogmas and myth haunted the minds and the   ritualistic practices of a well organised hierarchical priesthood, kept the people busy in worship of fire and ceremonies. In Javid Nameh Iqbal meets the Eastern royals سلاطین مشرق ۔

Answering a question of later days’ King Nadir Shah Afshar of Persia (Reign 1736–1747 AD), he tells about Persia when encountered by early Muslims.

پیری ایران زمان یزد جرد

چهرهٔ او بی فروغ از خون سرد

دین و آئین و نظام او کهن

شید و تار صبح و شام او کهن

موج می در شیشهٔ تاکش نبود

یک شرر در تودهٔ خاکش نبود

"Iran as a nation had reached to its end of life due to its old age in the days of the Emperor.

Yazdgard the third (died 651 AD). Her face was pale due to its frozen blood in her veins.

Her religion (dualistic Zoroastrianism in decayed form), constitution and system of establishment were ancient in nature and outdated. Its light and darkness (obsolete dualism), and its days and night were old and lifeless.

There was no tide of wine in its transparent glasses of vineyard. It had been reduced to ashes and there was no spark left in its bunt out mounds of clay".

تا ز صحرائی رسیدش محشری

آنکه داد او را حیات دیگری

"Then from the desert of Arabia, it received a massive force of conquest, which revitalised it by inculcating a new life into her old withering body."

The Zoroastrian philosophy had developed over a period of two millennia. It was once a vibrant and thriving ideology of the great Persian Empires (535 BC to 651 AD). Naturally, it had met an abrupt end in 651 AD, with the collapse of the mighty Sassanian empire (224-651 AD).  Then the Zoroastrianism had existed in isolated pockets, sometimes in hiding in the mountainous regions of Iran and central Asia and at other far off places like Indian Gujrat. In the absence of a strong royal patronage, it went through a gradual deterioration. The political chaos led to psychological depression, at a national level. The ideological vacuum was filled with the intellectual efforts of early Muslim thinkers, mainly of Persian origin, who had still retained old wisdom and adopted positive aspects of their legacy, while converting to Islam. On the other hand, negative thoughts, dogmas and myth had also made their way into their metaphysics. It tried to inject itself in the minds of newly converted Muslims. Islam in India was introduced by Sufi saints mainly coming from old Persian territories. They had already assimilated both positive as well as negative elements of pre-Islamic thoughts. For Indian converts, whatever they  were taught by the preachers was all Islamic in nature. The curriculum of Indian seminaries had been rich in philosophical teachings, for centuries to come. They theological sciences received less attention, till the recent past.

The remnants of ancient philosophy remained fossilized in the minds of many Muslim philosophers, scholars and mystics. The phenomenon of adjustment of alien philosophies in Islamic thought was painfully prolonged. Its impact had been multidimensional in nature. The synthesis of philosophical system of Islam was a difficult phenomenon. The work was mainly dome by the Persian mystics, hermits, saints, Sufis and poets. They were frequently changing their stations between Persia, Central Asia and India, where Persian was well understood. Muslim intellect had undoubtedly enriched with old wisdom but at times polluted with the ideas of pre-Islamic past. In some areas, it became gradually difficult to distinguish pure Islamic thoughts from what was mixed in that. There were discourses, dialogue, discussions and brainstorming.

Allama Iqbal has highlighted the negative impact of that phenomena, which had critically affected all aspects of life and ideas. He expressed his views, in an impressive way.

مسلماں ہے توحید میں گرمجوش!

مگر دل ابھی تک ہے زنّار پوش

تمدّن، تصوف، شریعت، کلام

بتانِ عجم کے پجاری تمام

حقیقت خرافات میں کھوگئی!

یہ اُمّت روایات میں کھو گئی

لبھاتا ہے دل کو کلامِ خطیب!

مگر لذّتِ شوق سے بے نصیب

بیاں اس کا منطق سے سلجھا ہوا

لغت کے بکھیڑوں میں الجھا ہوا

وہ صوفی کہ تھا خدمتِ حق میں مرد

محبّت میں یکتا، حمیّت میں فرد

عجم کے خیالات میں کھو گیا

یہ سالک مقامات میں کھوگیا

بجھی عشق کی آگ اندھیر ہے

مسلمان نہیں راکھ کا ڈھیر ہے

ساقئ نامہ

"The Muslim is enthusiastically engaged with Tauheed but from the core of his heart, still he has still retained the Zoroastrian rituals like wearing of (Zunnar (a Zoroastrian strap worn around waist).

Muslim culture, Sufism, legal system and theosophy are all manifestation of  worship of the Zoroastrian idols (dogmas).

The reality has been lost in myth and superstitions. The Muslim Ummah is haunted by ancient traditions.

The preacher's sermons attract the hearts of audience but has no spiritual passion in it.

His speech is replete with logic and complicated, due to the intricacies of linguistic miracles of philology.

The Sufi, who was once a dedicated man, actively serving the humanity, with all his sincerity of purpose. He was unique in his self-pride and accomplished in love.

He has become prey to Zoroastrian thoughts. This traveller of right path has been lost on the stations۔
The fire of Ishq (devotional love) has been extinguished. He is no more a Muslim but a heap of ashes."

Similarly, in a letter, addressed to Nazir Niazi, he had highlighted the negative impact of Zoroastrianism, on the Islamic thoughts. The diversity of ideas, originating from different sources has been unified under the disguise of Islamic philosophy. Islam needs to shed away unnecessary dust from its shining face. The positive wisdom needs to be retained, as it is collective wisdom of humanity, with its divine dimensions

One may refer to my lecture on “Allama Iqbal and Zoroastrian legacy”, Which I had delivered at Dabistan e Iqbal, in which Late Justice Dr Javid Iqbal was present. He appreciated the lecture and asked me to write a book, on that topic, which he promised to publish himself. That lecture is available on U tube. It gives a good overview of the subject.

One may read Allama Iqbal's PhD thesis part on “Reality of Light-Ishraq:  Return to Persian Dualism” while discussing about Shahabuddin Suharwardi (1145-1234 AD) and Philosophy of Illumination about Revival of Dualism. According to Allama Iqbal 

The "not-light" (darkness) is not something distinct proceeding from an independent source. It is an error of the representatives of the Magian religion to suppose that Light and Darkness are two distinct realities created by two distinct creative agencies. The ancient philosophers of Persia were not dualists like the Zoroastrian priests who, on the ground of the principle that the one cannot cause to emanate from itself more than one, assigned two independent sources to Light and Darkness.”

As regards is concept of the Dualism, we conclude with his famous verse.

باطل دوئی پسند ہے حق لا شریک ہے

شرکت میانہ حق و باطل نہ کر قبول

The wrong ideology (of evil) is inclined towards Dualism but the "Haqq" (Creative Reality of God) is uniquely distinct and has no partner. Don't accept the partnership between “Haqq” and “Batil” (wrong ideology of evil).

Time and again, he has made such references in his poetry and prose. Otherwise, Allama Iqbal has appreciated the positive side of cultural, linguistic and intellectual heritage of Persia (other than religion), which led to synthesis of Muslim culture and intellectual tradition. This he has acknowledged in his lecture delivered at Aligarh University, in 1910 AD.

عرب کے سوز میں ساز عجم ہے

حرم کا راز توحید امم ہے

"The Arabian deep thoughts are mixed with Persian songs. The secret of harem (holy sanctuary of Makkah around the Ka'ba) lies in the unity of nations."

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