Becoming a genuine Muslim
  • Book Title:
 Becoming A Genuine Muslim
  • Book Author:
Muhammad Iqbal
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The philosophical deliberations of Kierkegaard and Iqbal respectively have parallels in certain regards and yet, in spite of this, surprisingly little work has been done on the relationship and implications that may be drawn from their work being compared and contrasted.

 This book has as its principle that of applying a Kierkegaardian hermeneutics, which itself gives a particular emphasis to the subject of becoming a religious self, to Iqbal’s discussion of becoming a Muslim self.

Kierkegaard paid much attention to the developing of a dialectics and is rigorous in this endeavour; Iqbal, on the other hand, focused mostly on the identification of the problems of the Muslim world of his day, so he chose to remain actively engaged in the political and social issues of the Muslims of India.

 The main result of this is that Iqbal does not provide his readers with a clear idea of how to become a Muslim despite the fact that it is perhaps the core of his philosophical thought.

This book aims to identify and dispel the issues caused by the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in Iqbal’s philosophical thought which are partly the results of his particular interest in the identification of the problems rather than providing concrete solutions for them.

This will be achieved through the application of the Kierkegaardian techniques and concepts to Iqbal’s discussions.

 Therefore, the intention of this book is to make a contribution in three directions: (1) to the academic literature on Iqbal, a field which, with a few notable exceptions, is lacking in analytical and critical studies; (2) to Kierkegaard studies, by juxtaposing Kierkegaard with a philosopher from the Muslim world, who has, largely, not been taken seriously by Western philosophy and who deserves to be taken more seriously; (3) to intercultural studies, by reflecting on the common ground of a philosophical project in spite of religious and cultural differences.

After a review of literature on Iqbal, and also on what has been written about him in relation to Kierkegaard, there is an attempt to construct a Kierkegaardian hermeneutics, the establishment of which incorporates the main principles of Kierkegaard’s philosophical method. Iqbal is then set in his cultural and philosophical context, with a focus on his view of the problems of the modern Muslim world of his day and his solutions for them.

The remainder of the book is concerned with the application of Kierkegaardian hermeneutics to the main points of Iqbal’s discussion of the development of the self and specifically of the genuine Muslim self. This requires the making of certain distinctions between concepts, and also the cultivation of an existential appropriation on the part of the reader. Concepts which led to ambiguity in his work and particularly in his idea of becoming a genuine Muslim, are identified and then clarified with the help of Kierkegaard’s theory of making distinctions. Iqbal’s understanding of the existential character of Islam is identified with the help of a number of Kierkegaardian notions, and the role of this existential character of Islam is discussed in relation to becoming a genuine Muslim.

Lastly, the concepts which were clarified through the principle of making distinctions and other Kierkegaardian notions, such as religiousness and the spheres of existence, are applied to Iqbal’s discussion of the existential character of Islam.

In this book, which originally was in the form of a PhD dissertation, I have chosen to write in a depersonalized style for the sake of clarity and precision. Occasionally I have given examples which have required the use of the first person singular or plural. I have also cited the name of the work itself instead of using ‘ibid.’ in referencing the works of Kierkegaard and Iqbal, again, for the sake of clarity.

 In referencing secondary resources, however, I have used ‘ibid.’ to avoid duplicating the same reference details. Although all of Iqbal’s poetry has been translated into English, and a few works have been rendered into Turkish, I have made a point of checking the Persian text in cases where I needed to examine the details of technical terms, e.g. where the translations might be ambiguous, or where the published translation is inadequate.

Although Iqbal is widely known as a ‘philosopher-poet’, and although most of his authorship consists of poetry, he presents his philosophical discussions mainly in his prose works, including newspaper articles.

 I have referred to only a couple of his poems in which he raises philosophical discussions and notions that are significant and relevant to the subject of the individual’s becoming a genuine Muslim self. And finally, in this book I would wish to adopt a gender-neutral style using ‘he’, ‘him’ or ‘himself’ when talking about the ‘individual’ and the ‘human being’, and using the word ‘man’ as a term beyond gender.

I would like to thank my supervisors Professor David R. Law and Professor Alan Williams for their full support and expert guidance throughout my PhD research at the University of Manchester. I am also grateful to Professor Oliver Leaman for encouraging me in publishing my research as a book, and also I am thankful for his support, guidance, understanding and kindness throughout this book project. I would like to extend my appreciation to Professor Abrahim H. Khan for all the inspiring conversations we had on Iqbal, and for his feedback on my dissertation. I also would like to thank Iqbal Academy Pakistan for providing a huge collection of Iqbal’s poetry in English without which this study would probably have been an overwhelming pursuit.

I owe an immense depth of gratitude to my family for their continuous prayers that kept me motivated. I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my beloved husband, Fahri, who deserves my heartfelt gratitude for his unwavering support and understanding throughout our life together.

And finally, my lovely daughter, Asude, deserves my deepest gratitude for sharing every single minute of the first fifteen months of her life with me at my office at the university, for joining me in almost every academic event I attended for the last three years, and for being such a calm girl especially at academic occasions.

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