Notes: Chapter 6 of this slight work deals briefly with Shaykhism, Babism and the
Baha'i Faith as modern flowerings of the tradition of Iranian metaphysics,
and shows a remarkably positive attitude toward them. Iqbal appears to
have been very interested in the Baha'i Faith in his youth. Mazandarani
maintains that he actually converted, via the influence of an Iranian
Baha'i missionary who visited Lahore, but this seems likely to be an
exaggeration. In his youth, Iqbal was simply open to various sorts of
Muslim messianic modernism and thought well of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the
Ahmadiyyah then, as well. Later, in the 1930s, as he became a Muslim
nationalist, he was more critical of them. Tahirih
figures in his mystical poetry, something Annemarie Schimmel has written
about. It is striking how the book hits all the grace notes of the
academic Baha'i Studies movement as it developed from the 1970s. It treats
Mu`tazilism or early Muslim rationalism; the Sufi heritage; the esoteric
Hurufis; Suhravardi and the Ishraqi/Illuminationist heritage; Mulla Sadra;
and Shaykhis, Babis and Baha'is.
He speaks highly of Baha'u'llah's rejection of monism or wahdat al-wujud
and his conception of the individual ego. (Iqbal waged a struggle against
Sufi authoritarianism, decrying the murid/murshid (disciple/master)
relationship, arguing for individual mystical progress, and for the
importance of the individual ego [khudi]. He did not accept the Eastern
insistence on the abdication of individual conscience. Ironically, he saw
Baha'u'llah as an ally in this struggle.) The book thus seems prophetic
for academic Baha'i studies and also for the emphases that marked Iqbal's
career as a modernist philosopher and mystic.
See John Walbridge, "Allamah Iqbal's First Book," Research Notes in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies Vol. 5, no. 1 (April 2001).
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