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The Perfect Man of Iqbal

Amna Malik Jamal

The Idea of Perfect Man, Mard-e-Momin, Mard-e-Khuda, Sheikh, Kamil, Faqir, Banda-e-Haq, Qalander and Banda-e-Hur are not unfamiliar. Rumi is probably the first Muslim thinker who has presented a complete picture of Perfect Man. There are other Muslims who also put forward theories of Perfect Man. Ibn-i-Muskwaih had undoubtedly initiated the idea which found its culmination in Rumi.

M. M. Sharif writes, “the idea of the Perfect Man is an old one in Muslim Philosophy. It had its roots in Plato’s conception of the philosopher king and Islamic idea of a prophet, but it found its highest development in the speculations of Ibn-e-Arabi, Al-Jilili and Rumi.

R. A Nicholson in the secret of self notes, ‘to the Iqbal the Perfect Man is highly developed ego the Naib (vicegerent) of God on earth is the complete ego, the goal of humanity, the acme of life both in mind and body, in him the discord of one mental life becomes a harmony, is the last trust of the tree of humanity, and all the trails of painful evolution are justified because he is to come at the end”.

The Perfect Man is developed personality and has earned complete and true freedom and immortality, true freedom belongs to him. In Gabriel’s Wing the free man is synonymous with the Perfect Man and earns immortality too. Iqbal says in Gulshan-e-Raz-e-Jadid:

The eternity is superior,
which a borrowed soul,
Wins for herself by love
The being of mountains
and deserts and cities is nothing,
The universe is mortal, the
ego immortal and nothing else matters

Dr. Nazir Qaiser Writes, ‘to Iqbal the Perfect Man has not ceased to exist, and is very much needed in the present age. In Zarb-i-Kalim says:

Today the world needs that true Mahdi,
Whose vision produces a commotion in the world of thought

To find such a man is difficult. Iqbal says in Bang-e-Dara:

Narcissus weeps for many years over its sightless;
(only then) with great difficulty a person with vision is produced.

Perfect Man is blend of Ishq and Intellect. He has not fear and no difficulty can upset him. Also death cannot frighten him because of the developed state of ego. Physical death looks pleasant to him. Iqbal says:

What is the sign of the faithful man,
When death come, he has a smile on his lips.

To Iqbal the other name of the Perfect Man is Faqir. Both hold that all the qualities of Faqr are found in him. He is not an idle mystic, he is full of action. He earns lawful livelihood. He may be poor in appearance but he is owner of countless treasure, there is no greed in him. He has a great social relevance. He is not segregated from community. He contributes in bringing about a healthy social order. He combines in his behaviour Jamal (Divine beauty) and Jalal (Divine Majesty) like a true Faqir. Iqbal sys in Bal-e-Jibril:

He who saw is the leader of the world,
You and we are imperfect, he alone is perfect.

In Zarb-e-Kalim, Iqbal says:

He is the dew drop which cools the lives of the poppy flowers,
And he is that storm which makes the hearts of river shiver.

Again says:

Vengeance and forgiveness, Piety and power,
These are four things which make up a Muslim.

The Perfect Man believes in higher religion. His message is universal and his love is for all the human beings. In Tasbihat-e-Rumi he says:

The slave of Ishq takes lesson from God,
He becomes kind equally, both with infidel and believer.

Perfect Man’s love for God is sincere. He loves God neither for the sake of gardens and Houris of Heaven not for fear of Hell. He does not love God for the traditional pictures of Heaven. Rather, the Houris complaint against the indifferent behavior. In Zarb-e-Kalim, Iqbal beautifully says:

The angels had said: the faithful is gracious,
But the Houris complain; the faithful does not mix with us.

Love for humanity was their hallmark. ‘Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani, Sayed Ali Hujwiri and Mujjaddid Alaf Sani are those who were well known for their love for humanity.

He attains such power that his wishes and hands become wishes and hands of God: Iqbal beautifully says in Bal-e-Jibril that:

A Perfect Man’s arm is really God’s Arm,
Dominant, creative, resourceful, efficient

“As a result of this spiritual power he gets control over the material world also. It is the world that in the universe is absorbed in him, lost in him” Dr. R. A. Nicholson writes the Perfect Man can never be lost to the world, since he has assimilated and, as it were absorbed into himself the Divine attributes which constitute the reality of the world. He further says, ‘the true person not only absorbs the world of matter, by mastering it he absorbs God himself into his ego.’

Iqbal sums up beautifully in a verse, in Zarb-e-Kalim:

The sign of an infidel is that he is lost in the world,
The sign of the believer is that the world is lost in him.

‘He is God fearing, liable to answer to God for his deeds. Pity and love are his nature. He aims at changing the destiny of the human beings at large. He has no prejudice and is above class-distinction. He gives code of morality; bring about social and economic justice; and shows the way of life spiritual and material.” To Iqbal, ‘the pragmatic value of the perfect Man is immense, both for the development of the individual and the society.’ Dr. R. A. Nicholson notes, ‘For Iqbal the Perfect Man is the real ruler of mankind; his kingdom of God on earth. Out of the richness of his nature he lavishes the wealth of life on others, and brings them nearer and nearer to himself’. He says:

Appear O rider of Distinct,
Appear O light of the dark,
Realm of change!
Illumine the scene of existence.
Dwell in the blackness of our eyes!
Silence the noise of the nations;
Imparadise our ears with thy music,
Bring once more days of peace to the world,
Give a message of peace to them that seek battle.

Perfect Man ‘feels that the loftier stages of life he reaches the more he is the slave of God.’ He doesn’t look down upon other human beings. Because of this deed he is superior not because of his birth. He is partly mystical and partly philosophical. He is a saint prophet.


The News, Lahore, November 12, 2003
(by Amna Malik Jamal )

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