Stray Thoughts: 23 Quotations from personal diary of Dr. Allama Iqbal you haven’t read before…

Stray Thoughts: Quotations from diary of Dr. Allama Iqbal


Allama Iqbal at his 116 McLeod Road Lahore Residence

Allama Iqbal at his 116 McLeod Road Lahore Residence

In the “New Era” of April 1917 appeared an article of Allama Iqbal giving expression to some of his stray thoughts. Some of these thoughts are noticed hereunder:

  • Human Knowledge. “The uncertainty of human knowledge is a necessary condition of moral growth, since complete know­ledge will destroy the liberty of human choice.”
  • Destiny. “We go not, but we are carried, as things that float, now gliding gently, now hulling violently, according as the water is either stormy or calm.
  • Shakespeare and Goethe. “Shakespeare rethinks the indi­vidual; Goethe rethinks the Universal.”
  • Divinity of Man. “As a plant growing on the bank of a stream heareth not the sweet silver music which sustains it from beneath, so man, growing on the brink of Infinity listened not to the Divine undertone that maketh the life and harmony of his soul.
  • Poets and Politicians. Nations are born in the hearts of poets; they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.*’
  • Democracy and morality. “Democracy has a tendency to foster the spirit of legality. This is not in itself bad; but unfortunately it tends to displace the purely moral stand­point, and to make the illegal and the wrong identical standpoint , and to make the illegal and the wrong identical in meaning.
  • Suffering. “No religious system can ignore the moral value of suffering. The error of the builders of Christianity was that they based their religion on the fact of suffering along and ignored the moral value of other factors.”
  • Life and contemplation. “Life like the arts of poetry and painting, is wholly expression. Contemplation without action is death/’
  • Vagueness in poetry. “There should be an element of vagueness in poetry, since the vague appears profound to emotions.”
  • Sin and piety. “At least in one respect sin is better than piety. There is an imaginative element in the former which is lacking in the latter”.
  • Value of suffering. “Suffering is a gift from the gods in order to make men see the whole of life.”
  • Self-control. “Self control in individuals builds families; in communities it builds empires.”
  • Power. “Power is more divine than truth. God is power.”
  • Powerful man. “The powerful man creates environment; the feeble have to adjust themselves to it.”
  • Poetry and life. “Poetry is criticism of life; life is criticism of poetry.”
  • Character and majorities. “Character is the invisible force which determines the destinies of nations, and an intense character is not possible in a majority, It is a force, the more it is distributed the weaker it becomes.”

In the “New Era” of 18th August, 1917, Iqbal projected some more thoughts as follows:

  • History. “History is a huge gramophone in which the voices of Nations are preserved.”
  • Great mind. “Our soul discovers itself when we come into contact with a great mind. It was not until I had realised the infinitude of Goethe’s mind that I discovered the narrow breadth of my own.”
  • Belief “Belief is a great power. When I see that a pro­position of mine is believed by another mind, my own con­viction of its truth is thereby immensely increased/’
  • Human Intellect. ‘‘Human intellect is nature’s attempt at self- criticism.”
  • Hegel. “Hegel’s system of philosophy is an epic poem in prose”.
  • Woman. “A woman of superb beauty with a complete absence of self-consciousness is probably the most charming thing on God’s earth.”
  • God, Devil, and Man. “Both God and Devil give man oppor­tunities, only leaving him to make use of those opportunities in the way he thinks best.”
  • Philosophy and Poetry. “Philosophy ages; Poetry rejuvenates.”
  • Science, Philosophy and Arts. “Science and Philosophy have limits; Art is boundless.”


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