Allama Iqbal and The Concept of Ijtihaad. By Syed Mohammad Ali Musavi


(Translated by Mohammed Akmal Pasha)
Islam furnishes a complete system of life; all-encompassing and time-proven. It not only guarantees falah (success) in the life hereafter as is generally held, but also in the worldly life upon which the success of lateral life is dependent. Yet the plight of the Muslims’ world-over is deplorable, and their status is drooping with every sunset. The case as Muslim countries, nations and individuals is uniform, though it is slightly different as individuals or small groups of individuals. The Muslim countries are subject to foreign and alien pressures, greater the status of the country in the Muslim world, higher the international pressure. As individuals or small groups of individuals the outlook or character is perceived to be pathetic, which is rightly so to a certain extent and is also shadowed by their image by and large. The image in turn is developed by the broad-brush called Islamic Fundamentalism in the false garb of which terrorism is flourishing. Terrorism of any sort is aloof of Islamic precepts, to take terrorism as mirror image of Jihaad (killing nonbelievers if they kill Muslims) would be misconception. The interpretation of Jihaad as terrorism is not endorsed by any renowned Islamic institute be it Madina University (KSA), Al-Azher University (Egypt) or Qom University (Iran). The reason for all this predicament is lack of faith, poor or erroneous followership of Islamic precepts and lack of true application of one of the principles of Islam called Ijtihaad (where qualified scholars harmonize Islamic precepts with contemporary dynamics and suggest modifications accordingly). The Muslim scholars all around the world have already categorically rendered terrorism as against the precepts of Islam through the very instrument, Ijtihaad. Allama Iqbal, the great Muslim poet of East and the philosopher of Islamic philosophy is a well-furnished advocate of the precept and application of Ijtihaad.
In the past, especially after the war of 1857, which was basically strategized by the Hindu community and the Muslims were exploited to fight against the British rule, Muslims had weak footings. The war was a failure and British later on turned brutal against Muslims. The Muslims politically deemed culprits by British, socially dominated by Hindu community and on religious frontier self-defeated, were like a rolling stone. The last characteristic especially left them mind-boggled and confused. They would at one time prefer Hindu culture, and the British mindset at the other. Allama Iqbal in the 20th century pulsed this haphazardness and wrote: “the question of civil reform in Islam is in fact a religious question, for Islamic civilization is nothing but a practical side of the religion Islam. Not a single dimension of Islamic life-style can be separated from Islamic precepts. I (Allama Iqbal) is not authorized enough to lay down a modified framework of Islamic precepts (compatible with contemporary social and cultural dynamics), nevertheless in the wake of tremendous revolution in our lives, I must not abstain from reiterating that there exists a dire need to revisit Islamic precepts (through the lens of Ijtihaad). This does not imply that any lacuna exists in Islamic precepts, but the previous interpretation suited olden times, modern times call for modern interpretations. Today we need a new Ilm-e-Kalaam (science of discourse) and a scholarly figure such that he is not only laden with logic, reasoning and intellect, but also with a powerful imagination so as to emerge with categorical interventions that could suffice for all times, and for all regions of the world. Given the urgency and gravity of the issue, I think we need more than one scholars, and the task would take one hundred years.” (Zinda Rood, part 2, page 180 written by his son Javaid Iqbal)
By the time Iqbal’s theological dream comes true, one thing must be held certain that no Ijtihaad in Islam allows terrorism, rather it strongly condemns that. (The author is researcher at Parto Saqlain Institute, Qom, Iran. Email:

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