Iqbal's "The Development of Metaphysics in Persia"
Muhammad Iqbal

Muhammad Iqbal
The Development of Metaphysics in Persia

Muhammad Iqbal The Development of Metaphysics in Persia: A Contribution to the History of Muslim Philosophy (London: Luzac & Co., 1908). Digitally reprinted in Adobe Acrobat pdf format. (East Lansing, Mi.: H-Bahai, 2001). [316 Kb].
     Web format here: The Development of Metaphysics in Persia: A Contribution to the History of Muslim Philosophy.

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).
Digitalized with the kind assistance of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan, 2000-2001.

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