On Iqbal’s Original and Intensely Spiritual Quest for the Insaan e Kaamil, the Perfect Man

On Iqbal’s Original and Intensely Spiritual Quest for the Insaan e Kaamil, the Perfect Man
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Rather Nasir

In the quest for the Insaan e Kaamil, or the Perfect Man, Mawlana Rumi (RA) played a pivotal role for kindling the heart of Allama Iqbal (RA). Rumi (RA), the spiritual mentor of the Allama, which holds profound influence on his poetry is echoed in one of the famous philosophical poems of Iqbal(RA) , the secrets of self (Asrar e Khudi) where Rumi’s verses are quoted in the beginning:
“But yester-eve a lamp in hand?
The shaykh did all the city span.
Sick of mere ghosts he sought a “Man” but
Could find none in all the land
I, Rustum or a Haider seek
I’m sick of snails, am sick, he said
There is none, said i. He shook his head,
There is none like them, But Still I Seek.
The quest for the Perfect Man became a goal for Iqbal(RA). But, a common misperception that is being conjured by the western media and accepted by many scholars from the east, without proper scrutiny is that Iqbal (RA) was influenced in certain respects by Nietzsche towards the formulation of his concept of the perfect man. The Allama(RA) has himself reacted to the very supposition in a letter written to Dr, Nicholson, “I wrote on the Sufi doctrine of perfect man more than twenty years ago, long back I had read or heard anything about Nietzsche”.
On the contrary, the concept of the superman as propounded by German thinker, according to Iqbal(RA) , was borrowed from the literature of Islam degraded by his materialism.
Although Iqba(RA) had taken a lot of interest in German philosophy and literature, not because he had to quench his literary thirst from it but to actually trace the impact of Persian philosophy on German literary thought, which was quite profound and enduring. In this regard, some of the glaring examples cannot be ignored. For example, Herder, a German Philosopher, poet and theologian, translated Sheikh Sadi Sherazi’s(RA) famous Gulistan into the German language. Then came the Friedrich Schiller, the famous playwright, who named his drama in the Persian language that is Toran Dukht. Its plot was obtained from Nizamis , “Haft e Paiker”. The most important one was Von Hammer, who translated the famous “Divane Hafiz” into the German language. Since, Go the, was profoundly influenced by Hammers translations of hafiz, thus his heart kindled to read Divan e shams , Attar and many other Persian classics.
These became the reasons why Allama Iqbal(RA) got drawn toward German literature. The concept of perfect man in eastern traditions is firmly based and can be traced in the writings, of Abu baker Tufail, Hai-ibn Yakzaan and so on.
The Allama(RA) was never short of all such resources. Besides, Islamic mysticism uses the phrase Insaan e Kamil as an amalgamation of the divine and the human. Nietzsche on the other hand was bereft of this concept as his approach was purely materialistic. He failed to understand the term spirit except in the sense of life in the metaphysical manifestation. Iqbal(RA) writes about Nietzsche that he failed to reach his goal because of his materialistic tradition, although vision of divine came to him which gave him kind of a Gnostic mentality. Yet he was a failure and his failure was mainly due to the intellectual primogenitor, like Darwin and Albert Lange whose influences completely blinded him from reality. al interpretation of the historical processes.
The very materialistic background with the rage of atheism seduced Nietzsche from the right path.
In this context Iqbal(RA) writes, in the Payam e Mashriq:
“His heart is a believer’s,
But his brain an infidel’s.
In the final analysis, Iqbal’s(RA) perfect man) is a developed personality, who is not a callous friend drawing sadistic pleasure through cruelty and emerging from serious crimes. He is a man who has earned immortality and spiritual discipline.

—The author teaches English at Boys Higher Secondary School, Kangan and can be reached at: nkashmiri786.nr@gmail.com

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