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Spiritual Democracy (excerpct from the Reconstruction)

The following is an excerpt from 'The Principle of Movement in Islam', the sixth lecture in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930/34) by Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), where the author introduced "spiritual democracy", a concept which turns out to be central to his concept of Pakistan as an ideal state as expounded in the Allahabad Address.

Spiritual Democracy

The Great European War bringing in its wake the awakening of Turkey—the element of stability in the world of Islam—as a French writer has recently described her, and the new economic experiment tried in the neighborhood of Muslim Asia, must open our eyes to the inner meaning and destiny of Islam. Humanity needs three things today: a spiritual interpretation of the universe, spiritual emancipation of the individual, and basic principles of a universal import directing the evolution of human society on a spiritual basis. Modern Europe has, no doubt, built idealistic systems on these lines, but experience shows that truth revealed through pure reason is incapable of bringing that fire of living conviction which personal revelation alone can bring. This is the reason why pure thought has so little influenced men, while religion has always elevated individuals, and transformed whole societies. The idealism of Europe never became a living factor in her life, and the result is a perverted ego seeking itself through mutually intolerant democracies whose sole function is to exploit the poor in the interest of the rich. Believe me, Europe to-day is the greatest hindrance in the way of man's ethical advancement. The Muslim, on the other hand, is in possession of these ultimate ideas on the basis of a revelation, which, speaking from the inmost depths of life, internalizes its own apparent externality. With him the spiritual basis of life is a matter of conviction for which even the least enlightened man among us can easily lay down his life; and in view of the basic idea of Islam that there can be no further revelation binding on man, we ought to be spiritually one of the most emancipated peoples on earth. Early Muslims emerging out of the spiritual slavery of pre-Islamic Asia were not in a position to realize the true significance of this basic idea. Let the Muslim of to-day appreciate his position, reconstruct his social life in the light of ultimate principles, and evolve, out of the hitherto partially revealed purpose of Islam, that spiritual democracy which is the ultimate aim of Islam.

Source: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930/34)

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