SCHOLAR AND SAINT-IQBAL’S VIEW
Poetry of Iqbal contains a great secret. That secret is related to Muslims’ success in the world and the
hereafter. Sometimes he is giving the message of “wake up from deep slumber” to the youth, hence
reminding them of the grandeur of the ancestors. At times he is exhorting them to inculcate the
attributes of falcon in themselves. Sometimes he is advising them to become the confidant of “khudi”
whereas at times he is guiding them to become pure of the desires of houris and castles. In short, Iqbal’s
poetry is replete with the desire for the betterment of Muslim umma. In his poetry, we would see a
beautiful comparison between two groups or characters as well. This depicts his unmatchable creativity,
artistic and imaginative qualities. For example competition between Divine love and intellect, seeker of
the world and seeker of Allah, asceticism and Divine love, paradise and the hereafter, discord between
a Saint and a scholar, conversation between man and Allah, difference between fake guides and the
Universal Divine Man and similar topics.
His renowned book “Shikwa Jawab-e-Shikwa” is also based on these topics. Iqbal has also discussed the
difference between the Saints who are seekers of Allah and the religious scholars who are seekers of
paradise and hereafter. The purpose of this article is to discuss this topic particularly.
Who is a religious scholar?
According to Allama Iqbal, the religious scholar is that person whose main objective is to achieve the
blessings of the paradise. Physically he follows shariah but inwardly he neither has gnosis of Allah nor
does he enlighten his inward with self-recognition. He performs excessive prayers and indulges himself
in long devotions and forty day seclusions, the purpose of which is only to increase his disciples and gain
money. In reality, such so called religious scholars are away from the Divine love.
Allama Iqbal says about today’s scholar of Islam:
اك مولوی صاحب كی سناتا ہوں كہانی
تیزی نہیں منظور طبیعت كی دكھانی
شہرہ تھا بہت آپ كی صوفی منشی كا
كرتے تھے ادب ان كا اعالی و ادانی
كہتے تھے پنہاں ہے تصوف میں شریعت
جس طرح كہ الفاظ میں مظمر ہوں معانی
لبریز مے زہد سے تھی دل كی صراحی
تھی تہ میں كہیں درد خیالی ہمہ دانی
كرتے تھے بیاں آپ كرامات كا اپنی
منظور تھی تعداد مریدوں كی بڑھانی
Let me tell you a story about a scholar without any ambition to air my wit. The scholar was
famous for his sainthood. The rich and poor both respected him. The scholar used to say that the gnosis of Allah is hidden in shariah just as the meanings are hidden in the words. Performing long devotions had filled his inward with the wine of asceticism. Inside him, he had the pride of knowledge. He narrated the stories of his miracles to people to increase his devotees. (Virtue and Vice)
On the contrary, the Saint aspires for vision and closeness of Allah in his every devotion. In his point of
view the meaning of success in the world and the hereafter is not in getting the pleasures of hereafter,
houris, castles and other paradisiacal blessings. Instead, he considers chasing all these as a trade with
Allah. The trade in which man gets the blessings of hereafter in return of his prayers but remains
deprived of the vision and gnosis of Allah.
Iqbal says in his book “Bang-e-Dara” to the scholar of Islam
سوداگری نہیں یہ عبادت خدا كی ہے
اے بے خبر! جزا كی تمنا بھی چھوڑ دے
واعظ كمالِ ترك سے ملتی ہے یاں مراد
دنیا جو چھوڑ دی ہے تو عقبیٰ بھی چھوڑ دے
جس كا عمل ہے بے غرض، اس كی جزا كچھ اور ہے
حور و خیام سے گزر، بادہ و جام سے گزر
This is the worship of the Lord, not a trade. O oblivious! Refrain from having even the
smallest anticipation of benefit. O preacher! Destination is guaranteed by complete sacrifice of
everything for Allah. So, give up desires of the hereafter like you have renounced those of the world!
Give up the attractions of heaven. Be selfless in your actions (and just desire for the Divine Essence)
since the prize is incalculably valuable. (The Call of the Marching Bell)
Each person would get reward according to his desire. Now, it is up to man that he desires the hereafter
or the vision of Allah.
Allama Iqbal verses in “Payam-e-Mashriq” about the special desire that is the desire of Allah:
ہست ایں میكدہ و دعوتِ عام است اینجا
قسمت بادہ باندازۂ جامِ است اینجا
The world is a tavern and it is open for all to drink (the wine of Divine vision).
Hence, everyone gets his share of wine according to his cup (desire). (Message From the East)
On the day of Divine covenant, Allah placed world and its beauty on one Hand and the hereafter on the
other Hand. The souls who diverted their attention from Allah to the world, considered the world as
their paradise and advanced towards it whereas the souls who inclined towards the hereafter stepped
towards it but some souls neither looked towards the world nor the hereafter. They only wished for the Divine vision.
Allah says in Surah Al-Waqiah:
Meaning: And you will be divided into three classes. So (first) those on the Right Hand; what a class the
Right Hand will be! And (second) those on the Left Hand; (in what miserable plight will be) the Left Hand
party! And (third) the Excellent; (they) are the Foremost. It is they who will be the ones drawn near (to
Allah). (They will live) in the Gardens of Bliss. (56:12)
On the day of Divine Covenant, Allah was testing the souls before He entered them in the human body.
Now, in the world He is testing the souls after entering them in the human body. The test He is taking
today is also of the desire as was before. Who wants what? If someone wants the world then the love of
world gets firm in the heart and he would see the result on the Day of Judgment. Those who want the
blessings of the hereafter in return of their prayers will get the blessings too. Whereas, those who do
not want these two and seek the vision and closeness of Allah only, Allah would bless them with it and
this would be the paradise for them.
Hadith about . people;
It is narrated from Abu Huraira that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said:
“When Allah created Prophet Adam, He hit the right shoulder of Prophet Adam and took out a bright creation just like ants. He then hit the left shoulder and took out a dark creation just like coal. Then He said about the right hand bright creation, “They are for paradise and I don’t care about them.” Then, He said about the left hand dark creation, “They are for hell and I don’t care about them too.”.
Sign of true Saints:
Sultan Bahoo says about the seeker of Allah:
“Who is a true man? The one who desires nothing but the vision of Allah, neither he wants the pleasures
and adornments of the world nor the houris, castles and charms of the paradise. The men of Divine
vision have been absorbed in the ecstasy of Ism-e-Allah Zaat since eternity, for them everything other
than Allah is hideous. Whosoever makes Ism-e-Allah Zaat his life and soul gets rid of all worries of both
the worlds.” (Ain-ul-Faqr)
Ali ibn Abi Talib says:
I do not worship Allah for the desire of heaven or out of the fear of hell. I worship Allah because only
He is worthy of worship
یہ جنت مبارك رہے زاہدوں كو
كہ میں آپ كا سامناچاہتا ہوں
Explanation: May the worshippers be blessed with paradise but my desire is only to meet and behold
the Beloved. (Bang-e-Dara/Call of the Marching Bell)
In Javid Nama Iqbal differentiates between the Saint and a scholar:
مردِ آزادے کہ داند خوب و زشت
می نگنجد روحِ او اندر بہشت
Explanation: The man of Allah who fully knows the right and wrong cannot be restricted by time and
space. Even his soul would not be bound in the paradise. (Book of Eternity)
Iqbal compares the desires of scholars and Saints:
جنتِ مُلاّ مے و حور و غلام
جنتِ آزادگاں سیر دوام
Explanation: The paradise for the seekers of hereafter (religious scholars) has the purified wine, houris
and servants but the paradise of the lovers is to travel eternally and have Divine vision.
جنتِ مُلاّ خور و خواب و سرود
جنتِ عاشق تماشائے وجود
Explanation: The paradise of the seekers of hereafter is to eat, drink and enjoy luxuries but for the lovers
of Allah paradise means the vision of the Beloved.
حشرِ مُلاّ شقِ قبر و بانگِ صور
عشقِ شور انگیز خود صبح نشور
Explanation: According to the seeker of hereafter, resurrection means opening up of the graves and
awakening of the dead at the blow of the trumpet of Angel Raphael. However, the Divine lover goes through accountability and tumult of the doomsday every moment and dies before death.
(Javid Nama/Book of Eternity)
From the words of Iqbal, one can differentiate between the scholars and Saints that the scholar is the
seeker of the hereafter while the Saint is the seeker of Allah. If the Saint is sent to the paradise on the
Day of Judgement where there is no vision of Allah then this will be more painful for him than the fire of
Iqbal further says while differentiating between a Saint and a scholar:
زاہد اندر عالمِ دنیا غریب
عاشق اندر عالمِ عقبیٰ غریب
Explanation: The seeker of Allah (lover) has no concern with the pleasures of heaven. He worships only
for the Divine vision as opposed to an ascetic who leaves the pleasures of the world and worships solely
for the sake of delights of the heaven. (Javid Nama/Book of Eternity)
در گذشتم زاں ہمہ حور و قصور
زورقِ جاں باختم در بحرِ نور
Explanation: I have left the pleasures of the paradise and set the ship of my soul into the ocean of Divine light (Oneness of Allah). (Javid Nama)
The Saints prefer to leave the pleasures and charms of the world:
All the Sufis consider this as the actual Divine unity to renounce all the pleasures and charms of the
paradise for the sake of vision and closeness of Allah.
۱۔ ایں ہم جہانے، آں ہم جہانے
ایں بیکرانے، آں بیکرانے!
۲۔ ہر دو خیالے، ہر دو گمانے
از شعلہ من موجِ دَخانے!
۳۔ ایں یک دو آنے، آں یک دو آنے
من جاودانے، من جاودانے!
۴۔ ایں کم عیارے، آں کم عیارے
من پاک جانے، نقد روانے!
۵۔ ایں جاں مقامے، آں جاں مقامے
ایں جا زمانے، آں جا زمانے!
۶۔ایں جا چہ کارم، آں جا چہ کارم
آہے فغانے، آہے فغانے!
۷۔ ایں رہزنِ من، آں رہزنِ من
ایں جا زیانے، آں جا زیانے!
۸۔ ہر دو فروزم، ہر دو بسوزم
ایں آشیانے، آں آشیانے!
(1) This world is a vast realm and so is the hereafter.
(2) In fact, the world and hereafter are merely fragment of thoughts and imaginations. They both exist
only because of the existence of man (the Universal Divine Man).
(3) Both this world and the hereafter are temporary and mortal but I am eternal (the Universal Divine
Man is immortal with Allah).
(4) The world and hereafter are worthless because both are void of the intensity of Divine love.
However, I am eternal as my soul has become perfectly immortal with Allah due to intensity of my Divine love.
(5) My sojourn in this world is temporary and my stay in the hereafter would also be limited. I am least interested in both.
(6) I have no concern with this world or the hereafter! I lament and remain restless due to my love for the Divine Essence and my state would remain the same in the hereafter if I am sent to paradise without the blessing of Divine vision.
(7) The world and the hereafter are both robbers and a total loss because they stand between my Beloved and me. The pleasures of the world distance one from the desire of Allah whereas the pleasures of paradise deprive one of the Divine vision.
(8) I enlighten the world and the hereafter. I am compelled to live, to grant beneficence and to stay connected to them but it is not my way to get indulged in these and forget my Beloved. One sigh of my love for the Divine Essence can burn the world and the hereafter into ashes. (Zabur-e-Ajam)
Who is the lover of Allah?
True lover of Allah is the one who is anxious in the love of Allah and still he raises the slogan of “Is there
any more?” How can such a lover aspire for the paradise which is stagnant!
Iqbal verses in Payam-e-Mashriq:
دِلِ عاشقاں بمیرد بہ بہشت جاودانے
نہ نوائے درد مندے، نہ غمے نہ غم گسارے
The everlasting paradise means death to the inwards of the Divine lovers as the life of
paradise would be stagnant. Neither are there passionate voices of the lovers nor any pain or consoler.
(Message From the East)
The main reason of Iqbal criticizing the so-called religious scholars is that their materialism has limited
the religion to performing the physical devotions only. Secondly, they have created sectarianism in
Muslim society. Islam is pure of all kinds of sectarianism and from caste and creed system. However,
today the era has changed. Every sect considers itself above others and is ready to declare others infidel.
That is why Iqbal wanted the religious scholars to leave conflict of sectarianism and to understand the
reality of religion.
نہ فلسفی سے، نہ ملا سے ہے غرض مجھ كو
یہ دل كی موت، وہ اندیشہ و نظر كا فساد
باقی نہ رہی تیری وہ آئینہ ضمیری
اے کُشتۂ سُلطانی و مُلاّئی و پِیری
Explanation: I’m not concerned with the philosophers nor the scholars. The philosophers will make my inward dead while the scholars will make my mind deluded. (Bal-e-Jibril/Gabriel’s Wing)
Explanation: There is no purification of inward and enlightenment of soul nowadays. Muslims are going
astray because they are misguided by kings, leaders, scholars and spiritualists. (Armaghan-e-Hijaz/Gift
from the Hijaz)
اے مسلمان اپنے دل سے پوچھ، ملا سے نہ پوچھ
ہو گیا اللہ كے بندوں سے كیوں حرم خالی
Explanation: O Muslim! Ask your inward, not the scholars as to why the Ka’aba is empty of men of Allah.
الفاظ و معنی میں تفاوت نہیں لیكن
ملا كی اذاں اور، مجاہد كی اذاں اور
Explanation: The words of the azan are the same but the azan and salat of the Saint (who gives life in the
love of Allah) in the arena of love and war is different from that of the scholar (mullah) and cleric. (Bal-e-
تیری نماز میں باقی جلال ہے نہ جمال
تیری اذاں میں نہیں ہےمیری سحر كا پیام
Explanation: Neither the Divine blaze nor the Divine beauty is left in your Salah. Even your azan is devoid
of the call of awakening. (Zarb-e-Kalim/Rod of Moses)
The religious scholars don’t know about the secret behind Divine love. The knower of the secret is one
who gives up his life in the love of Allah.
كیا صوفی اور ملا كوخبرمیرے جنوں كی
ان كا سرِدامن بھی ابھی چاك نہیں ہے
Explanation: The so-called Sufis and scholars don’t know about my passion because they haven’t even
achieved the beginning stage of Divine love. (Bal-e-Jibril/Gabriel’s Wing)
The main reason of glory of our ancestor Muslims:
The main reason of the glory of our ancestor Muslims was their belief in the Oneness of Allah. However,
now Muslims lack such firm belief.
قل ھوْ اللہ كی شمشیر سے خالی ہے نیام
آ ہ اس راز سے واقف ہے نہ ملا ، نہ فقہیہ
Explanation: The scabbard of contemporary Muslims is empty of the sword of belief in Oneness of Allah.
Ah! Not even the scholars and the jurists know this secret. (Zarb-e-Kalim/Rod of Moses)
What is the real religion? The real religion is neither in becoming self-forgetful by the effect of
theophanies and spiritual states nor is in the verbal exhortation.
صوفی کی طریقت میں فقط مستیِ احوال
ملا کی شریعت میں فقط مستیِ گفتار
Explanation: There is nothing left but euphoria in pseudo-Sufism where a person becomes oblivious to
his whereabouts. Sharia is interpreted by the scholars in such a way that there is only left the elation
from verbosity and sermons with no effect on their own behaviour. (Zarb-e-Kalim/Rod of Moses)
How does one gain the reality of religion? The reality of true religion reveals by the effect of the perfect
spiritual guide’s spiritual sight that also grants the gnosis and love of Allah.
اٹھا میں مدرسہ و خانقاہ سے غمناک
نہ زندگی، نہ محبت، نہ معرفت، نہ نگاہ!
Explanation: I disappointedly left madrasas and fake khanqahs. Alas! There was no life for spiritual being
and no gnosis, love or spiritual sight (to alter inwards). (Bal-e-Jibril/Gabriel’s Wing)
ملا کی نظر نورِ فراست سے ہے خالی
بے سوز ہے میخانۂ صوفی کی مئے ناب
Explanation: The sight of scholars is void of the light of wisdom while the cup of so-called Sufis is also
empty of the wine of Divine love. (Armaghan-e-Hijaz/Gift from the Hijaz)
Iqbal lays emphasis on attaining self-recognition:
Allama Mohammad Iqbal exhorts Muslims to attain the knowledge of reality and self-recognition. This is
because, unless and until they attain it they cannot cognize the reality that on what basis they are the
عجب نہیں کہ خدا تک تیری رسائی ہو
تیری نگاہ سے ہے پوشیدہ آدمی کا مقام
Explanation: It is obvious that you won’t reach Allah Almighty as you are oblivious of the reality of man.
(Zarb-e-Kalim/Rod of Moses)
Iqbal made the Muslims aware of the greatness of their pious ancestors that they had reached the core
of the religion and were the representatives of the Oneness of Allah. Alas! Now our religion is confined
to only knowing what is prohibited and what is not.
وہ مذہبِ مردانِ خود آگاہ و خدا مست
یہ مذہب ملا و جمادات و نبادات
Explanation: The religion of our ancestor Saints was based on self-awareness and absorption in Divine
love. Now, the religion defined by the scholars is prevailing which is stagnant and confined only to the
physical worships. (Bal-e-Jibril/Gabriel’s Wing)
Iqbal says that the scholar would be bored of the blessings of paradise:
In his poem Bal-e-Jibril, Iqbal raises a deep point in an analogical manner that when Allah would permit the scholar to go to the paradise then he will request Allah that the scholar has the habit of fighting and
arguing is his profession, he would not like the houris, wines and the meadows of the paradise. What’s the point of sending such a scholar to the paradise?
میں بھی حاضر تھا وہاں، ضبطِ سخن نہ کر سکا
حق سے جب حضرت ملا کو مِلا حکمِ بہشت
عرض کی میں نے الہیٰ! میری تقصیر معاف
خوش نہ آئیں گے اسے حور و شراب و لب کشت
نہیں فردوس مقامِ جدل و قال و اقوال
بحث و تکرار اس اللہ کے بندے کی سرشت
ہے بدآموزی اقوام و ملل کام اس کا
اور بہشت میں نہ مسجد، نہ کلیسا، نہ کنشت!
In order to know his status man should know his reality. And it is possible only when he performs all
deeds according to the will of Allah. The purpose of all devotions and worship should not be to get the
blessings of paradise rather he should worship Allah solely because only He is worthy of being
worshipped. The purpose of man should only be the achievement of union with Allah. We should
protect our places of worship from materialism, sectarianism, egoism and self-conceit. Only then we can
play an ideal role in nurturing the true soul of religion. May Allah bless us to understand the poetry of
Iqbal in light of the lover and immortal Mystic of Allah. Ameen.