Iqbal Session 4.1 – Culture and Imperialism: Reading Iqbal in War On Terror Times
AbdoolKarim Vakil What is alive and what is dead in Iqbal? How does Iqbal speak to us? How should we read him? Introducing his 1953 translation of Iqbal‟s Rumuz-i Bekhudi the British orientalist A.J. Arberry set the reading of the philosophical poem against the context both of the world historical significance of the formation of Pakistan and, more immediately and urgently, of the Western anxieties awakened by Cairo‟s Black Saturday and its portents of a clash of civilisations.
Similarly, reviewing in 2005 a collection of texts by the symbolic interactionist Herbert Blumer, which included notes of his talk of the 1970s on the concept of Self in Iqbal‟s Asrar and Rumuz, sociologist Dmitri Shalin comments that „alas, Iqbal‟s plea for Muslim reawakening that Blumer endorses has a different ring to it in the post September 11 world‟. Others, such as the philosophers AbdolKarim Soroush, Bashir Diagne and Charles Taylor find in the Iqbal of Reconstruction the reformist thinker and the hermeneutical moves that speak to our times and predicaments. Reading, whether Lolita in Tehran or Iqbal in the Muslim eastWest is a determinedly worldly and sited affair. This intervention approaches the question of reading Iqbal here and now through an exploration of his critiques of Culture and Imperialism.