Sunday, March 01, 2009

V.S. Naipaul on Iqbal's ideas on Islam and the Muslim state

The idea of a separate Indian Muslim state, once it had been formulated couldn't have been resisted. The idea was put forward in 1930 by a revered poet, Sir Mohammed Iqbal (1987-1938), in a speech to the All-Indian Muslim League, the main Muslim political organization in undivided India. 

Iqbal's argument was like this. Islam is not only an ethical ideal; it is also 'a certain kind of polity'. Religion for a Muslim is not a matter of private conscience or private practive, as Christianity can be for the man in Europe. There never was, Iqbal says, a specifically Christian polity; and in Europe after Luther the 'universal ethics of Jesus' was 'displaced by national systems of ethics and polity'. There cannot be a Luther in Islam bevause there is no Islamic church-order for a Muslim to revolt against. And there is also to be considered ' the nature of the Holy Prophet's religious experienve, as disclosed in the Koran ... It is individual experienve creative of a social order.'

To accept Islam is to accept certain 'legal concepts'. These concepts - revelatory, but not to be belittled for that reason - have 'civic significance'. 'The religious ideal of Islam, therefore, is organically related to the social order which it has created. The rejection of the one will eventually involve the rejection of the other. Therefore, the construction of a polity on national lines, if it means a displacement of the Islamic principle of solidarity, is simply unthinkable to a muslim. 

--- Muslims, to be true to Islam, need a Muslim polity, a Muslim state. 

-V.S. Naipaul in Among the Believers, An Islamic Journey

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