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The Development of Metaphysics in Persia by Iqbal

Some typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text.

Words italicized in the original are surrounded by _underscores_.

Letters superscripted in the original have been placed in {} brackets.

The Arabic letter Ain is represented by the grave accent `, the Arabic letter Hamza is represented by the single quote ' and the asterism sign is represented as .*. in the text.




SHAIKH MUHAMMAD IQBAL B. A. (Cantab) M. A. (Pb.) Ph. D. (Munich).

LONDON LUZAC & Co. 46, Great Russell Street W. C. 1908

Printed by E. J. BRILL. aEuro" LEIDEN (Holland).


My dear MR. ARNOLD,

This little book is the first-fruit of that literary and philosophical training which I have been receiving from you for the last ten years, and as an expression of gratitude I beg to dedicate it to your name. You have always judged me liberally; I hope you will judge these pages in the same spirit.

Your affectionate pupil



The most remarkable feature of the character of the Persian people is their love of Metaphysical speculation. Yet the inquirer who approaches the extant literature of Persia expecting to find any comprehensive systems of thought, like those of Kapila or Kant, will have to turn back disappointed, though deeply impressed by the wonderful intellectual subtlety displayed therein. It seems to me that the Persian mind is rather impatient of detail, and consequently destitute of that organising faculty which gradually works out a system of ideas, by interpreting the fundamental principles with reference to the ordinary facts of observation. The subtle Brahman sees the inner unity of things; so does the Persian. But while the former endeavours to discover it in all the aspects of human experience, and illustrates its hidden presence in the concrete in various ways, the latter appears to be satisfied with a bare universality, and does not attempt to verify the richness of its inner content. The butterfly imagination of the Persian flies, half-inebriated as it were, from flower to flower, and seems to be incapable of reviewing the garden as a whole. For this reason his deepest thoughts and emotions find expression mostly in disconnected verses (Ghazal) which reveal all the subtlety of his artistic soul. The Hindu, while admitting, like the Persian, the necessity of a higher source of knowledge, yet calmly moves from experience to experience, mercilessly dissecting them, and forcing them to yield their underlying universality. In fact the Persian is only half-conscious of Metaphysics as a _system_ of thought; his Brahman brother, on the other hand, is fully alive to the need of presenting his theory in the form of a thoroughly reasoned out system. And the result of this mental difference between the two nations is clear. In the one case we have only partially worked out systems of thought; in the other case, the awful sublimity of the searching Vedanta. The student of Islamic Mysticism who is anxious to see an all-embracing exposition of the principle of Unity, must look up the heavy volumes of the Andalusian Ibn al-`Arabi, whose profound teaching stands in strange contrast with the dry-as-dust Islam of his countrymen.

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