The philosophy of Iqbal can be explained in nine simple points. They can all be extracted from three research papers he presented respectively in 1908, 1909 and 1911. His later work, including the more well-known Reconstruction is further development on these nine points. The points are as following.
- Islam and the modern West share a common worldview. It consists of the next four points.
- The essential nature of human being consists in will.
- The ethical nature of human being is good.
- All the principal forms of vice can be reduced to fear.
- Salvation is absolute freedom from fear and grief.
For a comparison of this worldview with some other Muslim writers, see ‘The Creation Story‘.
The structure of the Muslim community consists of three components:
- Faith: We are members of the society founded by the Prophet of Islam because we all believe in a certain worldview and participate in the same historical tradition.
- Uniform culture: In order to participate in the life of the communal self, the individual mind must undergo a complete transformation, secured internally by that uniform culture which the intellectual energy of our ancestors has produced.
- Common institutions: The transformation of the individual mind is secured externally by the common institutions of Islam – law and government.
- Austere character: If it is our aim to secure a continuous life of the community, we must produce a type of character, which at all costs, holds fast to its own, and while it readily assimilates all that is good in other types, it carefully excludes from its life all that is hostile to its faith, uniform culture and common institutions.
The purpose of all the intellectual and political activities of Iqbal was to produce this type of character. This does not exclude even the most philosophical of his writings. For instance, the preface of the Reconsruction ends on this sentence: ‘Our duty is carefully to watch the progress of human thought, and to maintain an independent critical attitude towards it.’ This is a function of the austere type of character.