PhD thesis: The Iqbalian Critic of Modernity

Nazeer, Saleha, La critique iqbalienne de la modernité. Une approche comparative [The Iqbalian Critic of Modernity. A comparative Approach], Ph.D., Iranian Studies, University of Paris 3, La Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2011.

“Discussion about the characteristics, opportunities and challenges of modernity has been a prominent theme in Western and Eastern poetry, literature and philosophy over the past few centuries. Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) has also contributed to this discussion but his thought remains largely unknown outside the Muslim world. The present inquiry will be a small step in redressing this shortcoming. The first part of the inquiry seeks to identify the defining characteristics of modernity and the challenge that they pose to human well-being, with reference to the ideas of well-known Western thinkers (most notably Goethe and Blake). Quantification, detached objectivity, excessive reliance on technology, and subjugation of others for economic gain are the key factors in this regard. The next part describes Iqbal’s analysis and critique of modernity with respect to these four characteristics using his poetical works where his position is most succinctly expressed. Iqbal uses a wide range of sources from both the East and the West-poetry, literature, philosophy, theology, and modern science. As wide ranging as his use of different sources is, Iqbal’s analysis of modernity remains self-consciousnessly attached to the Qur’an and the prophetic tradition. This analysis also shows his ideas have been expanded upon in one part of the Muslim world – post-Independence Iran, using the works of two modern Iranian thinkers, Ali Shariati and Jalal Al-e Ahmad. The inquiry seeks to demonstrate that Iqbal’s insights remain relevant even today for all those experiencing modernity – whether in the East or in the West.”

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