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Iqbal on Life after Death

qbal on Life after Death by Prof. Muhammad Munawwar,

Death is the only birth right which can be denied to none. There is no age limit to qualify for death. One may die soon after one’s birth. Some have to await death for long. But come it must. No escape and no proxy in death. Left to himself every human being wants to live on and does not like to be deprived of life consciousness. Loss of feeling of existence is simply abhorrent. Yes, but man does on occasions set himself against life. Such occasions make death look more enlivening than life itself. One does lay down one’s life for some high ideal, some great cause, some sacred mission and so on. This is sacrifice. This is life in death, a joyful apprehension of eternity. On the other hand there are occasions when a man out of disgust is impelled to finish himself. This is suicide. But out of four billion who crowd the stage of the earth what is the percentage of those who commit suicide or who fall martyrs to lofty ideals? Certainly very low. Normally people die natural death.

Even an animals feels the pleasure of being alive and when it finds its life in peril it shrieks, trembles and moans. How dear life is! Who knows whether animals can be so death-conscious as human beings are. And surely death reminds itself to human beings so many times during a single day. Death is a haunting reality and still it is Man who being so much death conscious loves life so much. He laughs back to death. The imminence of death imbibes in man the idea of making hay while the sun shines. This idea is beautifully expressed in the following verse by Mirza Ghalib, one of the most celebrated poets of Urdu language:-


(Without death life would have been a dull affair. It is death that makes desires work efficiently).

Contrarily sometimes death-visions create dismal forebodings by bringing into relief the futility of human life, as is expressed by a Persian poet:-


(The wind blew away to the four corners of the world the pages of the dynastic history of the Emperor Kiaqubad).

Emperors die and the ruling dynasties vanish. Why then to labour, toil and fight for glory when every thing in the end is reduced to dust by “death the leveller”.

There is yet another way to appreciate the phenomena of death and that is the humanization of human beings as is aptly said by Zauq, another poet of Urdu language:-


(It is death that has compelled man to bow before God, otherwise he was far self-conceited to do so.)

Any way death is there. It has to be faced. But still the concept of total mortality is not acceptable altogether. Man desires to prolong, as much as possible, his span of life in this world, if not physically then at least spiritually. He wishes to do something to be sure that his name does not come to an end with the end of his bodily existence. He conquers, he builds, he makes discoveries, he paints, he composes verses and he sings, for the sake of his name and fame. He must achieve and accomplish something that would defy his total mortality. If nothing else could be performed at least children were to be left behind to carry his name down to coming ages as far long as possible – no doubt this craving for life after death is a great thing in many respects and in all respects it helps to make life more meaningful. If total extinction had been the belief of humanity at large, life here would have lost almost all of its charm and would have become a sheer absurdity. There are people who are existentially haunted by the “absurdity” of life but thanks God, their number is negligible and they make not noteworthy impact beyond some intellectualistic close circles.

I have before me the Arabic version of a book by J.H. Breasted “DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION AND THOUGHT IN ANCIENT EGYPT”. The author says with a note of stress. “In modern and ancient societies has attached so much importance to life beyond the grave as the ancient Egyptians did” (1) – The second chapter of this book which pertains to life after death and man’s sojourn in his grave is very interesting. Breasted related ruminatively his adventures during his research through the ancient necropolises and says that the mummified figures of five thousand years ago are quite fresh even today. The Egyptians used to bury with the dead his valuables as well as a reasonable quantum of his favourable food. In the tombs of some of the kings even their favourite servants and concubines were also imprisoned alive to save the king from the boredom of loneliness after he got up in his grave. The kings got the grave built in the shape of pyramids in their life time and under their own supervision, and contented themselves with the feeling that the treasures buried along with them would defy encroachment on the part of their enemies and that other kings would not be able to assail them by coming out of their graves. In this regard “The History of Mummification in Egypt” by Professor J.E. Eliot published in 1910 by the Royal Philosophical Society, Glasgow, offers a very useful and interesting study.

The Hindus burnet their dead. They do not believe that the soul is in need of any particular body. Hence they do not bury the dead. As is obvious they do not attach much importance to the body, therefore they do not believe in the resurrection of the body. But they believe and vehemently so in the immortality of soul, although their faith is that sinstained souls remain deprived of heavenly grace. These wretched souls go on hovering under the canopy of heaven, assuming different bodily shapes till their redemption. Buddhism brought this concept to its logical consummation invalidating its expiability, without its association with another body – expiation entails action and a soul without a body cannot redeem itself. Hence the concept of the transmigration of souls. Before 600 B.C. all the Hindu Societies did not subscribe to the concept of the transmigration of souls, though some Hindu asceties did believe in it. Obviously the Hindu societies, by and by, accepted this belief under the impact of Buddhism which flourished in India as the religion of the ruling dynasties for about a thousand years. Despite the extinction of Buddhism in India some of the later philosophers such as Shankar Acharya and Ramanuj subscribed to the transmigratory cycle of soul as usual. Dr. Radha Krishnan’s “The Vedanta” and “Indian Philosophy” published by George Allen and Unwin, London are very helpful readings in this regard. Encyclopaedia Britannica in its article captioned “Hinduism”, reinforces the view that the prevalent concept of “the transmigration” among the Hindus is a consequence of the impact of Buddhism.

One of the basic beliefs in Islam is the verity of “Life-hereafter”. Man is accountable to God for his actions. Hence his resurrection. Then he is rewarded or punished according to his desert. Therefore he must live on to enjoy the boons bestowed on him by God or to suffer the punishment awarded to him. It simply means that man does not perish with death. But no traveler to the valleys of death comes back to tell what happens during the immeasurably long period between death and resurrection. There are on record the statements of thousands of people, young and old of both the sexes to whom the states of the dead were revealed in dreams. On occasions the dead have foretold the impending occurrences to their dear ones. Some have come to inform them of the deterioration of their graves and demand alleviation of their distress. At times we are told that a tete-a-tete took place between a living person and a person who dies centuries ago – In this regard innumerable saints and holymen who were known for their truthfulness have recorded thousands of anecdotes in their chronicles. One needs not oneself to be belabonring research in this respect. One may study Kitab ur-Rooh (The book of the Soul) by Ibn-e-Qayyim (may God bless him) especially its second and third chapter. Similarly the Karamat-ul-Auliya (Miracles of the Saints) by Yousaf-bin-Ismail1 Al-Nabhani is an encyclopaedic work relating to this subject. The books contains hundreds of anecdotes relating to the dead, who died long long ago, coming to people in dreams and even in walking to impart some important piece of advice or information. This book contains the name of many other books and their authors who directly or indirectly have written on this subject. In Urdu language also there are many books on this or relating topics, the most recent being M. Aslam’s Maut ke Bad (After Death). The book has been published from Lahore and deserves attention. Mr. M. Aslam has immensely drawn on European, American and Indian philosophers and psychologists. He has shown that modern scholars in delicate questions of life hereafter in the light of most recent scientific know how. M. Aslam maintains that they are gradually being led on to the belief in the immortality of soul.

Bain ul-Alamain (Between Two Worlds) by Mustafa al-Kik published in Cairo by Dar-al-Maarif in 1965, is a brief but interesting book on this subject. Desmond Shaw’s “How You Live When You Die” and “You Can Speak With Your Dead” must be very informative as is obvious from their titles. I have seen some excerpts from these two books in Bain-ul-Alamain. Whatever it may be, science is also bringing the Psychical world under its close study under the name of parapsychology. C.D. Board in his celebrated work “The Mind and its Place in Nature” has discussed the immortality of soul discerningly, in eleventh and twelfth chapters. But for their long discursive logic his observations are noteworthy. His analytical proclivities do not betray his insistence on the denial of the immortality of soul though he want to accept it only in the light of scientific arguments. Hence he concludes his introductory note to its Section D, as follows:

“I may say at once, that my own view is that, if human survival can be rendered probable at all, this can be done only by empirical arguments based on the phenomena which are treated by psychical research.”

Muhammad Iqbal is the poet of life and the philosopher of immortality. He has, alike in his philosophic discussion and poetical arguments, upheld the concept of immortality. His works are permeated by the vital concept of man’s immortality from the beginnings of his musings to the last. Of course, questions about the nature and life in the next world remain a permanent soul-irritant for him. He wants to know the state and conditions of individuals and societies there. Is the next world different from this one and in what respect? Do we have the problems of blood and other relationships there also? Have we to work hard to earn our livelihood in paradise too? Do people fall in love and bear the pangs of distractions? Do we have robbers and moon-shiners in that heavenly abode as well? Do people have answes to their queries dished out to them or they are kept perplexed there also as they are kept here? These and many other similar questions arise in the mind of anyone who believes in the life hereafter. But everybody cannot express these irritating questions in singing words. Iqbal the philosopher and poet was surely capable of doing it. In the first section of Bang-e-Dara is a poem Khuftagan-e-Khak Se Istifsar. Iqbal through this poem has put these and similar questions in lyrical fashion to those dead and buried long ago. Iqbal has given beautiful form and substance to metaphysical subtleties in absorbing verse like the following:-


  1. Is the man besieged by worries in that territory too? And is his heart under compulsion there also?
  2. Here we have relations and connections which scathe souls, do these prickly thorns grow in that garden also.
  3. Here there is one livelihood and so many heavy demands on it, would the soul be free from this sort of worry in that territory?
  4. Does that world also have the lightning, the tiller and the heap of grain. Do people travel in caravans there also and are they too afraid of robbers?
  5. Is paradise of garden or just a place for rest or is it the name of Divine Beauty to be seen uncovered?
  6. Is hell only a device to burn down sins and is the hidden purpose of the flames of fire nothing but to correct?
  7. Does soul fell pleased in search and enquiry there too – Does man die for the taste of inquiry there as well?
    Please disclose to me the mystery of the revolving firmament (on account of which death takes place). Death is a thorn pricking into the heart of man.

What will happen after the death, agitates Iqbal’s mind constantly and all his abstruse questionings point towards his belief in the life hereafter. It is very surely obvious that the belief in total extinction of man does not lead to such questionings. All this anxious fondness to know the distress, the dread, the worry and the horror of something after death are offshoots of the belief in the continuity of life after death.

Socrates is Plato’s mouthpiece in expressing this dread of something after death in his “Dialogues”. For example, in his “Apology” we come across the idea that “death is one of two things. Either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose there is no consciousness but a sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain… Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the deeds abide, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgement there, Midos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus… what would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay if this be true, let me die again and again for in another world they do not put a man to death for asking questions: assuredly not. For besides being happier than we are thee we are, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.”2

The query: “Is there any life after death?” changes into a belief in the immortality of soul as is also evidenced in another dialogue “Phaedo”.

Returning to Iqbal and his questionings about the immortality of man we come to another poem Kinar-i-Ravi in the same section of Bang-i-Dara. Kinar-i-Ravi presents an eloquent and captivating interpretation of the concept of continuity of life. The quiet evening, rive bank, quiver of the setting sun, passing-by of the speedy day-caravan, the tomb of Emperor Jahangir close by-and its minarets-impelled the poet to compose:-


“This place is like a story of the high-handedness of time.
This place is like a book on the past.”

In other words, the prospect induces the poet to see beyond our sphere. But we see that in this poem the word revolution or change has been employed and not annihilation or mortality. Then the subject changes and despondency turns into a hopeful mirth. Now we see the following verses:-


A boat is moving fast on the breast of the river. The boatman is fighting vigorously against the current.

  1. The boat is fast like the glance and it has disappeared from sight.
  2. The ship of man’s life is drifting alike in the ocean of eternity now visible and now invisible.
  3. Never does it accept defeat. It does hide itself but it does not become extinct.

Iqbal has likened the continuity of life to an ever-rolling stream, flowing out of sight and retracing to the same origin which is eternal and everlasting. This stream may divide itself into tiny drops but the drops will rejoin and again flow into the stream. It is true of mankind also. Animated by the same Breath, various in forms and colours, human beings enjoy a sense of unity – they lament when they separate despite the fact that they part to meet. However, it is natural that separation should perturb them. This theme has been brought home to us in the third section of Bang-e-Dara, in the poem captioned Falsafa-i-Ghamm (Philosophy of Sorrow). No harm in putting down some verses:-


  1. The stream flows down from the mountain top. It come singing so beautifully as if teaching the art of singing to celestia birds (or the birds flying in the sky).
  2. The mirror of the stream is bright like the cheek of a fairy. This mirror falls upon the stones of the valley and shatters into pieces.
  3. The current turned into beautiful and endearing pearls, in other words this fall of water assumed the shape of stars.
  4. The brook of flowing quick-silver was disrupted and scattered and a phenomenon of restless drops appeared.
  5. But this separation teaches the drops how to meet. Therefore just after a space the drops rejoin and become a tiny brook which looks like a silver-thread.
  6. The fast rolling stream of life has the same Reality as its mountainhead. It falls from heights and scatters into a multitude of human being.
  7. We separate in the lower chambers of the universe to meet again. But we take the temporary separation for permanent one and we bewail.

Khuftagan-i-Khak se Istifsar and Kinar-e-Ravi belong to the first section of Bang-i-Dara and this part contains poems composed till 1905 when Iqbal was hardly thirty. Falsfa-i-Ghamm, belongs to the third section of Bang-i-Dara which contains his poems written from 1908 to 1923, covering a creative period of fifteen or sixteen years. This is a condolatory poem composed on the death of Sir Fazl-i-Hussain’s father. But Iqbal has made it a universal dirge on death. Through this elegy Iqbal has brought home to every bereaved person his philosophy of death which makes manifest that:-


“Those who die never become extinct and in reality they never separate from us.”

It means the dead depart yet they do not part from us. In his Kinar-i-Ravi he had already stressed that “man does never accept defeat. He disappears from sight but does not perish at all. The vital element of life is indefeatable and immortal.” Iqbal’s belief in immortality is very deeprooted and unshakable. One can say that in Khuftagan-i-Khak and Kinar-i-Ravi, an abstract principle has been upheld while sympathetic and condolatory tone running through Falsafa-i-Ghamm, etc., is based on the same principle simply because the dead was someone else’s father. But the case is quite different. His belief in immortality did not wavered even on the death of his own mother. He feels the death of his mother intensely like every other person who perceives blessings and kindness in the person of his mother and wants to fondle in the arms of his mother like an infant. Walida-i-Marhuma Ki Yad Mein is one of the most important poems in the third section of Bang-i-Dara. In this poem Iqbal transmuted the pangs of separation and sense of deprivation peculiar to human nature into a big hope. He has explained that resurrection is germane to human body, upholding the principle of resurrection. There is no annihilation because resurrection is akin to human device to grow up like a seed that must sprout forth and clay dare not retard its growth. Resurrection is inescapable ; it must take place, Iqbal says:-




  1. The eye of flower-seed keeps awake even under the earth. How anxious it is to grow and to flourish!
  2. The flame of life which is hidden in this grain is obliged to exhibit itself and grow.
  3. It cannot wither even in the coldness of grave. It cannot lose its warmth even when buried under the earth.
  4. Death is the binding element of this ruffled force (man) that subjugate even the high heavens.
  5. Death means the rejuvenation of the taste for life. Under the cover of sleep it is a message of wakefulness.

This motif is not only interpretative of human heart that scintillates with a hard gemlike flame in this poem, but is also pervasive hrough Iqbal’s philosophical prose despite the fact that in prose it is less impressive because here it is bereft of its poetic mould. Philosophy waylays our mind and intellect, while poetry seduces our heart and feelings. Iqbal has discussed this resurgence of life in his lecture, “The Human Ego – its Freedom and Immortality,” and says:-

“The resurrection, therefore, is not an external event. It is the consummation of life process within the ego. Whether individual or universal it is nothing more than a kind of stock-taking of the ego’s past achievements and his future possibilities. The Quran argues the phenomenon of re-emergence of the ego on the analogy of his first emergence.”3


“Man saith: What! After I am dead, shall I in the end be brought forth alive?” Doth not “Man bear in mind that We made him at first when he was nought? (19: 67-68)


“It is We who have decreed that death be among you.
‘Yet We are not thereby hindered from replacing you with others your likes or from producing you in a form which ye know not. Ye have known the first creation: will you not reflect?’ (56: 60-2)”

What Iqbal has brought home to us poetically through the similies of boat, sailor, stream, scattered water-drops and the flower-seed, he has philosophically explained and reinforced it by the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. Or we can say that this philosophy is an outcome of the study of the Holy Qur’an. Anyhow it is self-evident that Iqbal believes in the life hereafter. Like a seed of flower assimilating its latent energies to re-emerge, human ego does remain active to renew itself, even in the state of Barzakh. It is busy in passing through consummative process as already cited above; it is nothing more than a kind of stock-taking of the ego’s past achievements and his future possibilities. So according to Iqbal a hundred year old dead body makes a query addressing the grave:-


“What is it – and which today is this the morrow. Tell me, O my old abode, what is resurrection?”

The grave replies:-


“O you a hundred year old corpse, perhaps you do not know that the hidden claim of every death is resurrection.”

According to Iqbal, the state of Barzakh should be looked upon as one of expectation and interval between death and resurrection. And if this expectation is linked with the stock-taking of the ego’s past achievements, it becomes clear that the stream of consciousness running through a soul does not persist. In other words, we can say that the continuity of life remains intact. Of course, as Iqbal observes, it is controversial among Muslim theologians whether the re-emergence of man involves the re-emergence of his former physical body or not. Most of them, including Shah Wali Ullah, the last great theologian of Islam, are inclined to think that it does involve at least some kind of physical medium suitable to the ego’s new environment. It seems to me that this view is mainly due to the fact that the ego, as an individual, is inconceivable without some kind of local reference or empirical background.6

The crux of the matter is that Resurrection is a fact. What we do not, however, know is what nature is its. It is a riddle whether human life comprises body or soul. Prof. B.L. Atreya’s discussion has an air of al-Ghalzali’s and he observes: “those who think that death annihilates man’s personality and individuality are mistaken. They perceive man embodied in a palpable state of being and as they see nothing beyond body they view man as ‘not being’ when he is shorn of his body. They confine man to his body like those who think that when the lamp is shattered the light in the dust lies dead.”

Professor Atreya further observes: “Our sense perceptions are active in the state of dream albeit the passivity and relaxation of our physical senses: it seems as though there is a ‘dream body’ that functions while physical body get static. Our physical body is divested of all the liabilities of our ‘dream-body’. So the concept of individual annihilation after the dissolution of body is erroneous and least acceptable.7

Like Kant, Professor Atreya maintains that if the world is based on a moral reason and that if it is not meaningless and futile, then every individual is destined to immortality. Considering man’s immortality as though it were a moral necessity he observes: “How irrational it is to see all our efforts go waste and sink to nothingness.” Like Iqbal, he thinks the fever, fret and hectic activity of a morally encouraging and noble person should come to nought is as much inconceivable as it is absurd. Is it desirable to think that death will reduce Messiah, Nero and Washington to the same level? Will the blessed martyrs and accursed murderers ‘sail in the same boat.’8

To explain this moral necessity further the following reference seems to be quite in place. “There has been a difference between the concept of human destiny due to our different beliefs regarding the nature of the Universe and immortality and a concept of destiny per se has prevailed either in one form or the other – Transmigration, Nirvana, Resurrection, etc. So much so that the idea of ‘Past-History’ in communism manifests the concept of morality, retribution and destiny. Man may try to hide his natural light under any bushel, it is impossible for him to get rid of his moral proclivities. It is precisely his moral sense that he provided him with something to be content with his lot; it is this moral sense that has endowed an artist with poetic judgement and Shakespeare’s Hamlet is called tragedy since Prince Hamlet’s end is not what it ought to be.”9

However, to some the state of Barzakh is not actually that state which is duration of ego’s stock-taking, as Iqbal has said, irrespective of its duration whether long or short. These “diehards” might be spared by death and they might survive it. As Iqbal observes: “The Qur’an does not contemplate liberation from finitude as the highest state of human bliss. The ‘unceasing reward’ of man consists in his gradual growth and self-possession, in uniqueness and intensity of his activity as in ego. Even the scene of ‘Universal Destruction’ immediately preceding the Day of Judgment cannot affect the perfect calm of a full-grown ego:


“And there shall be a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the Heavens and all who are in the Earth shall faint away, save those whose case God wills otherwise.”10

“Who can be the subject of this exception but those in whom the ego has reached the very highest point of intensity?”11

Iqbal has elaborated this point in Darb-i-Kalim like this:-


  1. Life is like a shell and ego like a drop of April showers. It is unbecoming of a shell if it cannot turn the drop into a pearl.
  2. If the ego is self-preserving, self-creating and self-sustaining, then it is possible that even death may not make you die.

It entails immense struggle to survive death and it is not assigned to everybody. Iqbal’s exposition on this point is quite in place: “It is the deed that prepares the ego for dissolution, or disciplines him for a future career. The principle of the ego-sustaining deed is respect for the ego in myself as well as in others. Personal immortality, then, is not ours as of right: it is to be achieved by personal effort. Man is only a candidate for it.” It means that immortality and resurrection are not synonymous. Resurrection is an occurrence for those who die. Immortality implies that “if present action has sufficiently fortified the ego against the shock that physical dissolution brings, is only a kind of passage to what the Qur’an describes as Barzakh. The records of Sufistic experience indicate that Barzakh is a state of consciousness characterized by a change in the ego’s attitude towards time and space.”13

It means that those whose ego has undergone consummative process, Barzakh only brings about a spacio-temporal change and nothing else; such a death is different from that of a person whose ego is unfortified. But in accordance with this theme sometimes on the strength of a lament we jump over the distances of hundred years, the ego-fostering moments may be cut short speedily. If the ego-fostering means soul’s liberation from the shackles of the love of the moral, a contemplation of what God has ordained and a generation of God-like qualities in order to shake off death, it is evident, then, that such a person has sacrificed all mundane love at the alter of the real love of God. To Allama Iqbal, therefore, martyrdom in the path of the Lord is a “migration towards the Friend”:-


  1. What is the war of a believer? It is migration to the Friend. It is abandoning the world for the lane of the Friend (to live in).
  2. He who taught the word of love to the nations of the world (i.e. the Prophet, peace be upon him) said that war was the monasticism of Islam.
  3. It is only the martyr who understands that subtle and delicate point because it is he who buys this understanding with his blood.

This shows that for a martyr Barzakh is not what it is for a person of an untrained ego. Outward form of death is alike, inward state of death is different. In this regard I quote Muhammad Husain Arshi who related one of his meeting with Iqbal as follows:

“Afterward to my query about resurrection he replied: ‘it depends on the intensity of the will to live. The greater the will to live, the shorter the duration of state of Barzakh. In martyrs the will to live is much stronger, hence the state of Barzakh almost does not exist for them. As soon as they shake off their mortal clay they see new vistas of life opened to them.’ I said, ‘Is there no state of Barzakh for a believer in the real meanings of the term?’ he said, ‘No, the reason is the will to live. I have embodied this point in the following verse:-


“How can the life once given be taken back. Man dies due to lack of conviction.”14

The Qur’an is very explicit on their point,


“And reckon not thou those slain in the way of Allah to be dead.

Nay, they are alive and with their Lord and provided for.”15

It is evident that Iqbal’s contention “that immortality is not ours as of right” is not at variance with the Holy Qur’an. What is generally understood for this sentence is that resurrection will not be imposed on all and sundry; that there will be some persons who will not be capable of resurrection and hence they will not be called upon to resurrect at all. Some Muslim philosophers subscribe to the idea that only those who are capable of living a renewed life will be invoked to resurrect. For example the following passage of Abu Nasr Farabi has been reproduced by Mahmud Aqqad:


“And al-Farabi proceeds on with this method of discrimination between man and man according to measure of their faculty of rational force. Therefore he allows the possibility of a number of anthropoidea who possess human bodies not being called upon to account for their deed or that they may be deemed unfit for another life.”17

But Iqbal in the light of “And each of them is to come to him on the Day of Judgement, alone”18 believe that everybody must resurrect at least once, for he is accountable to God for his deeds. Yet we should clearly understand that immortality and resurrection are in no way synonymous; they are quite distinct phenomena. To him immortality means the end of death itself, as already cited above, the state which does not entail Barzakh because the self-contented souls return to God in increasing bliss and are happily admitted to grace.


“To the righteous will be said: O thou soul in complete satisfaction, come back thou to thy Lord, well pleased and well-pleasing up to Him and enter thou among. My devotees, yea, enter thou My Heaven.”

Of Course, Iqbal’s sentence in his lecture “The Human Ego – Its Freedom and Immortality,” is explicable when he thinks that:

“It (the state of Barzakh) must be a state of great psychio-unhingement, especially in the case of full-grown egos who have naturally developed fixed modes of operation on a specific spatio-temporal order, and may mean dissolution to less fortune ones. However, the ego must continue to struggle until he is able to gather himself up and win him resurrection.”19

The principle which Iqbal has kept in view while enlightening us on the human ego and necessity to consummate it, should have led us on to a logical conclusion that the less developed egos may not be invoked to resurrect and ultimately come to dissolution. Iqbal has used ‘may’ and not ‘must’. Even then this surmise is at variance with “And each of them is to come to him on the Day of Judgement alone.” So the deprival of resurrection implies that the state of Barzakh in such cases would mark a severance in their stream of consciousness which would last till the last day. Whether resurrection means actual resurrection of a historic body, goes on agitating our minds. If our body resurrects, will it be the body we are now familiar with or would it be conceived in some new shape and form? We have yet to cut the skeins of Gordian knot. Al-Ghazali maintains that soul is the actual man and that man is what he is, not due to his body. He thinks the body to be an external form of the soul. He argues. “Right from the external body of a drop to that of a newly-born baby human body undergoes a series of changes. So many vegetables, grains and meats compose human body and despite it man has remained a single entity.”20

It implies that to al-Ghazali it makes no difference what form a man resurrects in on the Day of Judgment, or if it entails Barzakh what mould may he possess on his re-emergence under the proviso that he has some soul. Iqbal is inclined to agree with al-Ghazali. Iqbal thinks man must have some physical medium on his resurrection. In other words, he believes in a bodily resurrection. He observes:-

“The point, however, which has caused much difference of opinion among Muslim philosophers and theologians is whether the re-emergence of man involves the re-emergence under the proviso that he has some soul. Iqbal is inclined to agree with al-Ghazli. Iqbal thinks man must have some physical medium on his resurrection. In other words, he believes in a bodily resurrection. He observes:-

“The point, however, which has caused much difference of opinion among Muslim philosophers and theologians is whether the re-emergence of man involves the re-emergence of his former physical medium. Most of them, including Shah Wali Ullah, the last great theologian of Islam, are inclined to think that it does involve at least some kind of physical medium suitable to the ego’s new environment… Nor do we gain any further insight into the nature of ‘second creation’ by associating it with some kind of body, however subtle it may be. The analogies of the Qur’an only suggest it as a fact; they are not meant to reveal its nature and character. Philosophically speaking, therefore, we cannot go farther than this – that in view of the past history of man it is highly improbable that his career should come to an end with the dissolution of his body.”21


  1. The subtle point that life would not end with the death of the body I learnt from Abul Hasan (Ash’ari).
  2. The sun, if it would hate its beam with lose all its brilliance.

In these materialistic modern times when man is disillusioned with his future and thinks that his life is “sound and fury signifying nothing” the belief in Resurrection should be disseminated. If the concept of Resurrection culminates in a belief, most of the feeling of life’s absurdity and futility will be eradicated, and man, reanimated with a fresh zeal of life, will view himself and his environments in a new perspective. But leaving the materialists aside, first of all we need to consolidate this belief in the hearts of those who profess it and fear death despite it:-


  1. Born of a Muslim father and still not knowing the meaning of death, he goes on trembling from fear of death till his end.
  2. I could find no heart in his afflicted bosom. In place of heart there dwells a broken breath and a haunting worry of death.


  1. Tatawwar-al Fikr wal Din fi Misral Qadima, Dar ul Karank Cairo—1961, (p.85)
  2. The Four Socratic Dialogues of Plato (translated by Benjamin Jowett), Oxford 1903, Reprinted 1949, pp. 90-91.
  3. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. P 120.
  4. The Al-Quran, xix: 67-68.
  5. Ibid., LIV 60-62.
  6. The Reconstruction, p. 122.
  7. An Introduction to Para-psychology: Kumar Publications. Banares (Bharat), p.p. 160 – 61.
  8. Ibid,p. 165-66.
  9. Manzoor Abbasi, “Iqbal’s Philosophy of Self and Eternity, “in Iqbal Review, Karachi (July 1962), p.3:
  10. The Al-Quran XXXIX: 68.
  11. The Reconstruction, pp. 117-18.
  12. Ibid., p.119.
  13. Ibid., pp 119-20.
  14. Mahmud Nizami, Malfuzat-i-Iqbal, Ishaat Manzil, Lahore p. 68.
  15. The Holy Qur’an, III, 169.
  16. Al-Insan fi al-Qur’an, Darul Kitab al-Arabi, Beirut, p.9
  17. Al-Qur’an, XIX: 95.
  18. Ibid., LXXXIX, 27-30.
  19. The Reconstruction, p. 120.
  20. Tahafat al-Falasafah,Catholicia, Beirut, 1962, pp. 244-45.
  21. The Reconstruction, pp. 122-23.


Iqbal and Quranic Wisdom
by Prof. Muhammad Munawwar,
Iqbal Academy, Pakistan.

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