by Navid Zaidi
It is said that comparisons are extremely unpleasant. However, it is strange how the same idea affects different cultures differently and in the history of thought it is the points of contact and departure that attract our special attention.
Jalaluddin Rumi (Persian, 1207-73) and Friedrich Nietzsche (German, 1844-1900) stood at the opposite poles of thought but these two great philosophers seem to be in perfect agreement with regard to the practical application of their thought on life and saw the need for development of humanity both in mind and body.
Nietzsche observed the decadence of the human type around him, disclosed the subtle forces responsible for it and finally attempted to describe the type of human life adequate to the task of our planet.
“Not how man is preserved, but how man is surpassed” was the keynote of Nietzsche’s thought.
Nietzsche has the expectation that a recurrence of the combination of energy-centers in the universe would lead to the birth of that ideal combination which he calls ‘superman’.
But the superman has been born an infinite number of times before. His birth is inevitable in the future; such is Nietzsche’s doctrine of Eternal Recurrence.
It was the formulation of the theory of evolution in the world of Islam that was the source of Rumi’s tremendous enthusiasm in the biological future of man.
Rumi was born in the Muslim world at a time when enervating modes of life and thought were taking roots and literature was inwardly devitalizing. This sucked up the blood of Muslim Asia and paved the way for an easy victory of the Mongols.
Rumi was keenly alive to the poverty of life, incompetence, inadequacy and social decay around him. He explains the corroding disease of his society and suggests the ideal type of manhood in one of his poems. He says:
Last night the Sheikh went all about the city, lamp in hand, crying
“I am weary of beast and devil, a Man is my desire.
My heart is weary of these weak-spirited fellow travelers,
The Lion of God and Rustam Dastan are my desire.”
They said, ” He is not to be found, we too have searched.”
He answered, ” He who is not to be found is my desire.”
IQBAL ON DIVINE VICEGERENCY
In the Quran, God says to the angels, ” Lo, I will appoint a Khalifa (Vicegerent) on the Earth. ” (2:28) So, according to the Quran, Man already possesses the germ of vicegerency.
Allama Iqbal (Indian, 1877-1938) declared himself a disciple of Rumi and elaborated the Quranic view of Divine Vicegerency in his epic poem ‘The Secrets of the Self’.
Explains Iqbal: The Self in its movement towards uniqueness has to pass through three stages:
1. Obedience to the Law
2. Self-Control, which is the highest form of self-consciousness
3. Divine Vicegerency (Niabat e Elahi)
This Divine Vicegerency is the third and last stage of human development. The Khalifa is the vicegerent of God on Earth. He is the completest Self, the goal of humanity, the acme of life both in mind and body. He is the last fruit of the tree of humanity but he is not here yet; he is yet to come. And all the trials of a painful evolution are justified because he is to come at the end. The more we advance in evolution the nearer we get to him.
- The Tao of Islam by Shaciko Muratha (izilhan.wordpress.com)