We attempt in this essay to examine the appearance of an epistemological paradox in the thought of Dr. Muhammad Iqbal.
There was that knowledge which he imparted to his native people, Indian Muslims who were subjected to brutal anti-Muslim British colonial rule, which touched their very souls and fired them with a scorching reaffirmation of commitment to Islam the religion. It was communicated in their native languages – Urdu and Persian. Had it been communicated in English, the European world of scholarship that was waging war on Islam would have rejected and sneered at it. Iqbal would have suffered a loss of prestige amongst his European peers.
And then there was that other knowledge which he communicated in English, and which included his views concerning the ‘End of History’. It impressed European scholarship, as well as his western-educated countrymen. Had some of it been communicated in Urdu or Persian, such as his rejection of belief in the advent of Imam al-Mahdi, of Dajjal the false Messiah or Anti-Christ, and in the return of the true Messiah, Jesus the son of the Virgin Mary (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon them both), it would have created serious and abiding problems for him amongst the Muslim masses. To this day, there are many Muslims who are inspired by Iqbal, but remain blissfully ignorant of his real views concerning the ‘End of History’.
The dualism in Iqbal’s thought and works is compounded by the fact that he sometimes says one thing in English, and then proceeds to say something quite different in Urdu or Persian.
For example, he agrees with the Turkish Ijtihad (if it may be called such) to the effect that the Imamate or Caliphate (which was abolished by Mustafa Kamal’s Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1924) can be vested in a body of persons or an elected Assembly. Provided that a modern Parliament can be constituted of good Muslims, Iqbal would be willing to accept it as a valid substitute for the Caliphate. Yet Iqbal, in verse, urges the restoration of the Caliphate, and seeks that mobilization of the Islamic spirit that would make it possible:
“Taa Khilafat kee bina dunyah main ho phir ustawaar, Laa kahein say dhoond kar aslaaf ka qalb-o-jigar.”
(In order to strengthen or vitalize the cause of (the restoration of) the Caliphate in this world, It is imperative that we locate and rebuild the heart and liver, i.e., the courage, faith and mettle of the first Muslims.)
Iqbal is fairly explicit in his rejection of belief in the advent of Imam Al-Mahdi and in the return of the true Messiah, Jesus the son of the Virgin Mary. This is what he says:
“The doctrine of the finality of prophethood may further be regarded as a psychological cure for the Magian attitude of constant expectation which tends to give a false view of history. Ibn Khaldun, seeing the spirit of his own view of history, has fully criticized and, I believe, finally demolished the alleged revelational basis in Islam of an idea similar, at least in its psychological effects, to the original Magian idea which had reappeared in Islam under the pressure of Magian thought.”
(Iqbal, Dr. Muhammad., Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, ed. by M. Saeed Shaikh, Lahore, Institute of Islamic Culture, 1986) p. 115
Indeed, in his letter to Muhammad Ahsan he adds belief in the advent of Dajjal the false Messiah to the list of Magian ideas which, he claims, have infiltrated into Islamic thought. This is clear from his use of the word masihiyat. (Iqbalnama, Vol. II, p. 231. Quoted in M. Saeed Sheikh, “Editor’s Introduction” to Iqbal’s Reconstruction, op. cit., p. xi).
Yet Iqbal, in verse, is fairly explicit in the affirmation of belief in the advent of Imam Al-Mahdi:
“Out of the seclusion of the desert of Hejaz, The Guide of the Time (Khidr-e-Waqt) is to come. And from that far, far away valley, The Caravan is to make its appearance.”
The view has been expressed that Iqbal’s Khidr-e-Waqt was none other than the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We disagree. By no stretch of the imagination can Jinnah be conceived of having emerged from a distant valley in the Hejaz. Nor could Sultan Abdul Aziz bin Saud, who placed the Hejaz under Anglo-American clientage, be conceived as Khidr-e-Waqt. Who then, other than Imam al-Mahdi, was Iqbal referring to?
We trace this apparently disturbing dualism in Iqbal’s thought and works and suggest that it resulted from an epistemological ambivalence in his thought. Different epistemologies function at different levels of consciousness. Iqbal’s theoretic consciousness, operating with the English language, appears to have functioned with one epistemology. His aesthetic and spiritual consciousness, operating with his native languages, seems to have functioned with another. Unless one succeeds in integrating all levels of consciousness in the personality, an epistemological ambivalence and a dualism in thought can appear.
It would be a disservice to Iqbal to suggest that he deliberately chose this duality of views in order to mislead his European audience. Such would imply that he also, in the process, mislead an entire generation of his native Muslim people who readily absorbed his views expressed in English. Iqbal is too great a scholar to have used Islamic scholarship to mislead his reading audience, which included so many of his own Muslim people.
The Sufis have a consistent record of not only recognizing, but also of using the heart as a vehicle for the acquisition of knowledge. That experience of the heart, through which it “sees” and penetrates “truth,” is frequently referred to as “religious experience.” In its wider sense, religious experience also includes that intuitive grasp which delivers to the believer the “substance” or “reality” of things. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him) referred to it when he warned: “Fear the firasah (i.e., intuitive capacity for penetrating the substance of things) of the believer, for surely he sees with the light of Allah.” And Iqbal himself directed attention to it in his famous couplet:
“Hazaron saal Nargis apni baynuri pay roti hai, Bari mushkil say hota hai,chaman main, deedawar paida.”
“For thousands of years, The narcissus (flower) has bemoaned its blindness; It is with great difficulty that a discerning sage (i.e. one who sees what others cannot see), Appears in the garden (of life).”
Iqbal’s deedawar—i.e., the discerning sage—is clearly he who sees with an inner light. Iqbal is, himself, a true expression of a deedawar.
The epistemology that recognizes ‘religious experience’ as a source of knowledge is herein referred to as the Sufi epistemology. The knowledge itself that comes from such a source is known as ‘Ilm al-Batin.
All through history, it was always important for the seeker of knowledge to be able to penetrate the ‘substance’ or ‘reality’ of things. But that would become absolutely essential in an age in which ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’ would be in total conflict with each other. ‘Appearance’ would be so dangerous that, if accepted, would lead to the destruction of faith. And so, in that age, survival would depend upon the capacity to penetrate beyond external form to reach internal substance, and thus be saved from being deceived and destroyed. Islam has declared that such an age would appear before the end of the world. And this reconfirms the abiding importance of the Sufi epistemology.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon him) advised that Surah al-Kahf (Chapter 18) of the Qur’an be recited every day of Juma’ah (i.e., Friday) for protection from the Fitnah (deception, trial) of Dajjal whose modus operandi is to deceive. The story in Surah al-Kahf of Moses (‘alaihi al-Salam) and Khidr (‘alaihi al-Salam) reveals the inadequacy of that epistemology which admits of knowledge only through observation. Moses is mistaken on all three occasions. Khidr on the other hand, who sees with the light of Allah Most High, corrects the mistakes which Moses made.
The story also indirectly points an ominous finger at the misguided community of Moses, i.e., the Jews, as the people who would experience the greatest deception, would be deceived and would then fail to read accurately the historical process. In consequence of being deceived they would blindly follow the most dangerous of all Pied Pipers, i.e., Dajjal the false Messiah or Anti-Christ, to their final destruction in history. My view is that this deception has already taken place, and the final destruction of the Euro-Jewish State of Israel is now certain.
Iqbal is himself an excallent example of a scholar with a matchless capacity to penetrate beyond appearances to grasp the reality of things. He made a thorough and penetrating study of modern western civilization and came to the conclusion that its appearance was quite different from its reality. Just three months before his death he tore away the veil or appearance of “progress,” and delivered a stinging denunciation of the modern West. Many, including the likes of Shaikh Muhammad Abduh, as well as today’s secular liberals, have declared that they have seen Islam itself in the modern West. Iqbal was not deceived:
“The modern age prides itself on its progress in knowledge and its matchless scientific development. No doubt, the pride is justified…. But in spite of all these developments, tyranny of imperialism struts abroad, covering its face in the masks of Democracy, Nationalism, Communism, Fascism, and heavens know what else besides. Under these masks, in every corner of the earth, the spirit of freedom and the dignity of man are being trampled underfoot in a way of which not even the darkest period of human history presents a parallel.”
(Iqbal, Dr. Muhammad, New Year’s Message, Broadcast from All India Radio, Lahore, Jan. 1, 1938.Quoted in Syed Abdul Vahid, Thoughts and Reflections of Iqbal, Lahore, Ashraf, 1964. p. 373)
EPISTEMOLOGY OF THE MODERN WEST
Modern western civilization emerged in consequence of sudden unprecedented change that overtook Europe. A civilization which was previously based on faith (in Christianity), and which had given collective and dramatic expression of that faith in the Crusades, experienced a radical change which transformed it into a civilization based on materialism. The new epistemology, which paved the way for the collective acceptance of materialism, was one that specifically denied the possibility of knowledge being acquired through religious experience, or through revelations from the unseen. Observation and experimentation were the only valid means through which knowledge could be acquired; hence that which could not be observed could not be known. The new epistemology naturally paved the way for a dramatic conclusion, to wit, a world which could not be observed and known, did not exist. Hence there is no reality beyond material reality.
IQBAL’S EPISTEMOLOGICAL RESPONSE
Iqbal realized that the acceptance of this western epistemology would result in the complete destruction of religion in the world of Islam. Knowledge would be secularized, and the secularized mind would be cut off from the unseen world — the world of the sacred. The heart would then lose that sacred light without which its sight is, at best, dim. Even the best scholars in the world of Islam would then be in danger of being deceived by western Pied Pipers, and all of mankind would dance to their tunes. Islam would be so secularized that a Protestant version of Islam would emerge. An age, which had already experienced the total dominance of western civilization over all of mankind, posed a great danger of precisely such an epistemological penetration of the Muslim mind.
Iqbal’s response was to devote two of the seven lectures that were subsequently compiled in a book as “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”, to a vigorous defense of the Sufi epistemology, and to place these two lectures at the very beginning of the series of lectures. They occupy the same prominent position as the first two chapters of the book. (http://www.allamaiqbal.com/works/prose/english/reconstruction)
In “Knowledge and Religious Experience” and “The Philosophical Test of the Revelations of Religious Experience”, Iqbal presented the most well-reasoned and persuasive challenge to the new western epistemology ever penned by a Muslim. These first two chapters of the Reconstruction were produced and prominently placed for precisely this purpose, i.e., to stimulate Islamic scholarship to probe with Allah’s light, and to penetrate beyond the seductive appearances presented by the modern age, in order to reach its poisonous reality.
More than sixty years have passed since that challenge (in the first two chapters of Reconstruction), and neither has western scholarship condescended to respond to it nor has Islamic scholarship cared to follow in the epistemological trail which he blazed. Indeed, this failure on the part of Islamic scholarship is partly responsible for the terrible plight in which the world of Islam now finds itself. The western world, with its secularized system of education, its politics of power-lust, greed and polarization of society, and its economics of exploitation, has enjoyed almost total success in deceiving the world of Islam and in thus leading it down the road of impotence, anarchy, intellectual confusion, and the ruination of faith.
From his adolescent days as a college student in Lahore to his university education in Europe, Iqbal’s exposure to western thought was continuously intimate. He also lived in an age that was forced to observe the literal explosion of western scholarship on the stage of the world. History had never witnessed anything comparable to that scholarship which dramatically extended the frontiers of knowledge in nearly every conceivable branch of knowledge. The scientific revolution of the West was something unique in the world of knowledge. More often than not Iqbal’s respect for western scholarship grew into outright admiration. Our view is that this admiration for western scholarship provoked a corollary. It revealed itself in the startling accusation that “…during the last five hundred years religious thought in Islam has been practically stationary” (Iqbal, Reconstruction, op. cit., p. 6).
And the consequence of that profound admiration was found in the Reconstruction, which is littered with references to, and quotations from, his peers in the world of western scholarship. There was no such peer within his own community, and so there is not a single reference in the Reconstruction to a contemporary Muslim scholar in the huge and intellectually influential Indian Muslim community.
This ambivalence, this love-hate relationship which found expression in the first two chapters of the Reconstruction, as in the endless references to Western scholars, was also revealed in Iqbal’s choice of language for addressing Muslims on as important a subject as the reconstruction of their religious thought. He chose to address the Western-educated Muslim intelligentsia in English. It must have been an absolutely amazing spectacle to behold Iqbal, seventy years ago, addressing his largely uncomprehending Muslim audience (one needs to have some knowledge of philosophy in order to comprehend these lectures) in chaste English and in a manner which conformed to Western linguistic etiquette and sensibilities. It must have been an equally amazing sight to behold the same Iqbal using the native Urdu and Persian languages to convey through poetry a message whose form and substance was quite alien to the Western mind.
We believe that Iqbal was not, himself, immune from the negative influence of the very Western epistemology of which he warned so strongly. His poetry, which came directly from the heart, witnessed the unsurpassed use of the Sufi epistemology and was uncluttered by any Western logical or epistemological restraints. The same cannot always be said of his thought when expressed in English. Our purpose in this paper is to direct attention to a subject which, more than any other, illustrates Iqbal’s epistemological ambivalence. That subject is “the end of history.”
ISLAM AND THE END OF HISTORY
Is there an Islamic view of the end of history? Did Iqbal ever address it?
It is appropriate, in the context of the subject we are here examining, to note that Islam has chosen terminology located in time for referring to the end of the world. The Islamic word is “the Hour” (al-Sa’ah). The supreme importance of this subject of “the Hour,” i.e., the end of history, was established in the famous visit of Archangel Gabriel (‘alaihi al-Salam) when he appeared before the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in the Masjid in the form of a man. He asked questions, the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) answered them, and Gabriel (‘alaihi al-Salam) then confirmed that the answers were correct. Sometime after his departure the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) informed the Muslims of the identity of the visitor, and of the fact that he had come (at that very late stage in the life of the Prophet) to instruct them in their religion. He had asked five questions, and two of these related to the end of history. The first question was: when will the end come? And the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had replied to the effect that the one who was being questioned had no more knowledge of the subject than the questioner. The second question was: tell me of the signs by which we would know that the end is at hand (i.e., what are some of the signs by which we would recognize the age that would witness the end of history?) He replied to the effect that a slave girl would give birth to her mistress (and this has now become a possibility because of surrogate parenting), and that the barefooted shepherds of yesterday would be competing with each other in constructing high-rise buildings. (Some of the foremost scholars of Islam in this age have declared that this sign has now materialized.)
This extraordinary Hadith amply demonstrated the supreme importance that Islam has attached to the subject of the end of history. It also clearly establishes that we now live in the last age.
The Islamic view of the last age is quite comprehensive. It includes the belief that the earth would function as habitat for a limited duration (al-Baqarah 2:36). The earth would one day be transformed into a dust bowl (al-Kahf 18:8). This implies that the end-time, which witnesses the death of the earth, would be preceded by an age of a constantly diminishing supply of (fresh) water, leading, eventually, to extreme scarcity of water. The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) described that last age as the age of Fitan (i.e., tests and trials), and the Qur’an warned that all of mankind would be targeted, and that Allah’s Punishment would be terrible. (Qur’an, al-Anfal, 8:25).
The constantly diminishing supply of water would take place in consequence of the release into the world by Allah Most High of evil beings whom He created, namely Gog and Magog (Ya’juj and Ma’juj). The last two Suwar (chapters) of the Qur’an were specifically devoted to warning the believers of the very great dangers which would emerge in the world in consequence of the release of “evil created by Allah.” The evil would appear as “evil beings” created by Allah Most High to test and to punish. They are Ya’juj, Ma’juj and Dajjal. The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) described Ya’juj and Ma’juj to be such thirsty beings that they would drink up all the water of the world. “They would pass by a river”, he said, “and they would drink it dry”. (Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 7, Hadith No. 2157). The last age would thus be characterized by over-consumption, waste, and disrespect for water. Mankind would witness, in the last age, riots and wars fought over water.
When we look around us in the world, it appears to be quite clear that the countdown has already begun. There is an ominous and growing shortage of water in nearly all parts of the world today. The head of the U. N. Environment Program has recently expressed his fear that the world is heading towards a “period of water-wars between nations.” A Pakistani government minister has warned of the eventual likelihood of riots over water in the city of Karachi. The Kalabagh Dam project threatens bloodshed. The Farrakha Dam, built by India, threatens to drown Bangladesh. Turkey and Syria may one day wage war over water which is one of the gravest issues that divide them. Israel, the Palestinian Arabs, and the neighboring Arab Sates (particularly Jordan) have serious and growing differences over the sharing of dwindling water supplies. The Israelis are actually waging a water war on the Palestinian Arabs, Muslims as well as Christians.
It would therefore appear that the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj has already taken place. Iqbal agrees. Indeed, he appears to be one of the very few scholars of Islam to have ever had the vision and the courage to make a formal declaration that the release has taken place and that we now live in the last age, or the age that will witness the end of history. The declaration was made in Urdu verse, and, predictably, there is not even a hint of it in any of his writings or statements made in English. This is the verse:
“Khul gayay y’ajuj aur m’ajuj ka lashkar tamam, Chashmay Muslim dekhlay tafseer harf-e-yansiloon.”
“The hordes of Gog and Magog, Have all been released; The Muslim can (now) perceive with his very eyes (right in front of him), The meaning of yansiloon.”
The word yansilun, which occurs at the end of the verse, and to the Tafsir (interpretation) of which Iqbal has directed the attention of the Muslims, refers to a passage of the Qur’an in Surah al-Anbiyah in which Allah Most High declares that when Ya’juj and Ma’juj are released they will spread out in every direction (min kulli hadabin yansilun). Here is the passage:
“And there is a ban on a town which We destroyed, that they shall not return (i.e., the people of the town are banned from returning to reclaim the town as their own), until Ya’juj (Gog) and Ma’juj (Magog) are released (from the barrier which Dhu al-Qarnain built in order to contain them), and they spread out in every direction.”
(Qur’an, al-Anbiyah, 21:95- 96)
This indicates that Ya’juj and Ma’juj would not only become the dominant force in the world, but that their power would subdue all of mankind. Indeed, their power would be such that, according to a Hadith al-Qudsi, Allah Most High has Himself declared: “None but I can destroy them.” (Kanz Al-Ummal , Vol. 7, Hadith No. 3021).
Our view is that Iqbal arrived at this amazingly accurate conclusion eighty years ago in consequence of his use of the Sufi epistemology. He not only made a critical and an acute observation of the historical process, and of the world which confronted him, but he also had the courage to make an intellectual leap for a startling intuitive grasp which delivered to him, for one dazzling moment in time, the very substance of the subject. The uneducated say many things without knowledge. But when a scholar of the Qur’an makes a declaration such as this, it must rest on the foundation of knowledge. Conventional Islamic scholarship, unable or unwilling to reach out for that intuitive grasp of the subject, is yet to pronounce on the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj. This writer met in Lahore with the late commentator of Iqbal, Prof. Muhammad Munawwar, who confirmed that Iqbal considered the modern Judeo-Christian west to be the civilization of Ya’juj and Ma’juj..)
We believe that Iqbal was absolutely correct. Consider the following:
The Caliphate is an institution central to the collective integrity of the Muslim Ummah. Although the seat of the Caliphate was oftimes filled in a manner which did not conform to the Shari’ah of Islam, the office of the Caliphate survived for some 1300 years. There is an indication of a prophecy of the destruction of the Caliphate, and of its restoration at the time of the advent of Imam Al-Mahdi, in the famous Hadith in which the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) spoke of the return of Prophet Jesus (‘alaihi al-Salam):
“How will you be when the Son of Mary descends amongst you and your Imam will be from amongst yourselves.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Within seven years of Iqbal’s pronouncement concerning the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj in 1917, the unprecedented power and influence of today’s dominant western civilization led to the destruction of the Ottoman Islamic Empire and, subsequently, to the collapse of the Caliphate.
Secondly, the Hajj is an institution which is even more central in importance to Islam, and which has survived for thousands of years. The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has prophesied the abandonment of the Hajj in the context of the aftermath of the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj. The fulfillment of that prophecy appears to be imminent. It should come to pass as soon as the Jews deliver on their promise to destroy Masjid al-Aqsa in order to rebuild the Temple of Solomon (‘alaihi al-Salam). When it does come to pass it will confirm, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Iqbal was absolutely correct in this pronouncement concerning the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj.
Thirdly, the basic characteristic of Ya’juj and Ma’juj is their Fasad (i.e., their conduct which corrupts, spoils, ruins) (Qur’an, al-Kahf, 18:94). The age of Ya’juj and Ma’juj would thus be one of immense and unprecedented corruption. Everything will be corrupted—religion and religious scholars; government and political life; the market, the economy, and the world of finance or money; law and justice; transportation, the environment, even the ecological system of the earth; sex, marriage and family life; sports and entertainment; education, youth, the role of women in society, and so on. When we look around us in the world today we find ample evidence of this universal corruption, indicating that Iqbal was correct, and that the countdown has begun.
Fourthly, another basic characteristic of Ya’juj and Ma’juj is their godlessness and immorality (khabath). The godlessness was described in a Hadith al-Qudsi in which we were informed that only one of every 1000 of the end-time would enter into heaven (and that person would be a follower of the Prophet). The rest, 999 out of every 1000, would all be the people of Ya’juj and Ma’juj and would all be sent to Hell. (Sahih Bukhari, 4:567; 6:265; 8:537)
The immorality was described in a Hadith in which the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) conveyed to this wife, Zainab (radiallahu ‘anha), the news that the advent of Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj would be in consequence of the increase of Khabath in the world (Sahih Bukhari, 4:797; 9:181; 9:249).
The Qur’anic use of the term Khabath includes that sexual perversity which characterized Sodom and Gomorrah. There is sufficient godlessness, immorality, and sexual perversity in the world today to qualify for the description given by the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Again Iqbal is correct.
A fifth characteristic of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, and one which also follows from the above, is that they would transform all of mankind into one single global society in which all would follow essentially the same way of life. It would be godless and decadent. Already that single godless, decadent society has won over the elite society around the world. The process is now moving inexorably to win over the masses as well. The actual Hadith is that Ya’juj, the community (Ummah), would expand to incorporate another four hundred communities (Umam). Ma’juj, the Ummah, would do the same. And so the world of Ya’juj and Ma’juj would be an ever-expanding globalized world of information, communication, entertainment, and culture, etc. It would culminate in one decadent global society with the mental and spiritual illumination of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca Cola. A world government will preside over it. Television has played, and still plays, a crucial role in the relentless pursuit of that goal—a goal that now appears to be quite within reach. This confirms Iqbal’s declaration.
Sixthly, perhaps the most significant clue of the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, and ominous consequences of that release for the world of Islam, is located in the Hadith (referred to above) in which the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) spoke to his wife, Ummul Mu’minin Zainab (radiallahu’anha), about the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj. His words were: “Woe unto the Arabs, because of an evil which is now approaching.” In other words, the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj would result in great calamities and suffering in the Arab world in particular. The clue is expressed quite explicitly in the Qur’an, however, when Allah Most High declared of a town (or city) which He had destroyed, that its restoration would never be possible until the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj makes it possible (see reference to verses 95 & 96 of Surah al-Anbiyah above).
My own use of the Sufi epistemology led me to the conclusion that the town was Jerusalem (i.e., the State of Israel) and hence I interpreted the verse to the effect that the State of Israel, destroyed by Allah Most High twice in history, would be restored when Ya’juj and Ma’juj are released, and as a consequence, that restoration formed part of the Divine Plan through which Dajjal the false Messiah or Anti-Christ would deceive the Jews and lead them to their final destruction. Indeed, this is precisely why he is known as al-Masih al-Dajjal. The identification of the “town” with Jerusalem is not far-fetched at all. There are several Ahadith which link Ya’juj and Ma’juj with Jerusalem (i.e., the State of Israel). For example, the Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said that when Ya’juj and Ma’juj are released they would pass by the Sea of Galilee (which is in Israel) (Kanz Al-Ummal, Vol 7, Hadith No. 3021).
Then there is a very long Hadith in Sahih Muslim in which we are told that Ya’juj and Ma’juj would attack the true Messiah, Jesus the son of the virgin Mary (peace and blessings of Allah Most High upon them both) in Jerusalem.
It should be noted that the Jordan-Israeli Peace Treaty of October 1994 recognized Jordan’s contractual rights to a certain amount of water from rivers shared by both countries. Israel may fulfill treaty obligations by pumping water from the Sea of Galilee. The water level in the Sea of Galilee has now reached so low (at the time of writing this essay in 1998) that further pumping of water would cause damage to its capacity to store water. Consequently, Israel has been forced to suspend its fulfillment of its treaty obligation concerning the supply of water to Jordan. Israel has recently told Jordan that the latter’s share of water will be reduced by 60% during the coming summer due to “low rain fall.” In response, the Jordanian Foreign Minister has urged Israel to fulfill its commitment and to carry out the signed agreement. The countdown has begun!
The restoration of the State of Israel not only confirmed the release of Dajjal the false Messiah and of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, but it also constituted a veritable dagger plunged into the very heart of the Arab Muslim world. This, in turn, fulfilled the ominous prophecy: “Woe unto the Arabs.” We may add, in passing, that the feminist revolution of the modern age (in which night wants to become day) confirms that Dajjal is now in the last stage of his mission.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this conclusion confirmed by eminent Sufi Sheikhs. It is just possible that Iqbal came to the same conclusion and this was one of the reasons why he called for attention to be devoted to tafseer harf-e-yansilun (i.e., the interpretation of verses 95 and 96 of Surah al-Anbiyah of the Qur’an). After all, the Zionist Movement was established in 1898, and the alliance between the Zionists and the modern West was painfully revealed to Iqbal in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
IQBAL’S EPISTEMOLOGICAL AMBIVALENCE AND THE END OF HISTORY
The major actors in the last stage of history, viz., Ya’juj and Ma’juj, Dajjal, Imam al-Mahdi, and the return of the true Messiah, Jesus the son of the Virgin Mary (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon them both), and the respective roles which they play, all combine to form an integrated inseparable whole.
What is truly alarming is that despite Iqbal’s confirmation of the release of Ya’juj and Ma’juj, he rejected belief in Dajjal the false Messiah, Imam Al-Mahdi and the return of the true Messiah, Jesus the son of the virgin Mary (peace and blessings of Allah Most High be upon them both). What possible explanation could there be for this truly unfortunate situation? Also, how do we explain the surprising fact that apart for that one solitary verse on Ya’juj and Ma’juj Iqbal is otherwise completely silent on the subject?
My view is that if Iqbal were alive today, the unfolding events in the world, and, in particular, in the Holy Land, would have forced him to change his views with respect to Dajjal the false Messiah, Imam Al-Mahdi and the return of Jesus the true Messiah.. Did he not himself say: “Only stones do not change”! It was because the reality of Ya’juj and Ma’juj was established by the Qur’an that there was no way that Iqbal could have dismissed the subject. The corollary is that if Ya’juj and Ma’juj had not been established in the Qur’an, and were dependent on the Ahadith, they would have suffered the same fate as belief in the advent of Imam al-Mahdi, Dajjal, and the return of Jesus (‘alaihi al-Salam). When Iqbal turned to the study of these subjects he appears to have experienced an epistemological transformation. The spiritual or religious consciousness was used to study the subject of Ya’juj and Ma’juj. The light of Allah Most High illumined the path for a dazzling display of the intuitive penetration of truth. On the other hand, it was the theoretic consciousness which was used to study the other verities which were not established by the Qur’an. I also suspect an impact of Iqbal’s philosophical training, as well as the western epistemology, on Iqbal’s theoretic consciousness, when he directed attention to the verities of the last age which were located in the Ahadith. This appears to be a subject worthy of serious study by a psychologist who is also capable of examining spiritual realities.