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The Secrets of the Self

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Originally published  1915
4.3/5 Goodreads

Author  Muhammad Iqbal
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Similar  Works by Muhammad Iqbal, Middle East books

Asrar-i-Khudi (Persian: اسرار خودی‎‎; or The Secrets of the Self; published in Persian, 1915) was the first philosophical poetry book of Allama Iqbal, the great poet-philosopher of British India and the founder of the idea of Pakistan. This book deals mainly with the individual, while his second book Rumuz-i-Bekhudi discusses the interaction between the individual and society.

Contents

Introduction

Published in 1915, Asrar-i-Khudi (Secrets of the Self) was the first poetry book of Iqbal. Considered by many to be Iqbal's best book of poetry, it is concerned with the philosophy of religion. In a letter to the poet Ghulam Qadir Girami(d.1345/1927), Iqbal wrote that خیالات کے اعتبار سے مشرقی اور مغربی لٹریچر میں یہ مثنوی بالکل نئ ہے "the ideas behind the verses had never been expressed before either in the East or in the West." R.A. Nicholson, who translated the Asrar as The Secrets of the Self, says it caught the attention of young Indian Muslims as soon as it was printed. Iqbal wrote this in Persian because he felt the language was well-suited for the expression of these ideas.

Overview

In 1915, he published his first collection of poetry, the Asrar-e-Khudi (Secrets of the Self) in Persian. The poems emphasise the spirit and self from a religious, spiritual perspective. Many critics have called this Iqbal's finest poetic work

In Asrar-e-Khudi, Iqbal has explained his philosophy of "Khudi," or "Self." Iqbal' s use of term "Khudi" is synonymous with the word of "Rooh" as mentioned in the Quran. "Rooh" is that divine spark which is present in every human being and was present in Adam for which God ordered all of the angels to prostrate in front of Adam.

However, one has to make a great journey of transformation to realize that divine spark which Iqbal calls "Khudi". A similitude of this journey could be understood by the relationship of fragrance and seed. Every seed has the potential for fragrance within it. But to reach its fragrance the seed must go through all the different changes and stages. First breaking out of its shell. Then breaking the ground to come into the light developing roots at the same time. Then fighting against the elements to develop leaves and flowers. Finally reaching its pinnacle by attaining the fragrance that was hidden within it.

In the same way, to reach one's khudi or rooh one needs to go through multiple stages which Iqbal himself went through, spiritual path which he encourages others to travel. He notes that not all seeds reach the level of fragrance. Many die along the way, incomplete. In the same way, only few people could climb this Mount Everest of spirituality, most get consumed along the way by materialism. The same concept had been used by the Medieval poet and philosopher Farid ud-Din Attar in his "Mantaq-ul-Tair" ("The Conference of the Birds").

Iqbal proves by various means that the whole universe obeys the will of the "Self." He condemns self-destruction. For him, the aim of life is self-realization and self-knowledge. He charts the stages through which the "Self" has to pass before finally arriving at its point of perfection, enabling the knower of the "Self" to become the vicegerent of God.

References

The Secrets of the Self Wikipedia


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