Thursday, 10 June 2010

Urdu and 'Islam in danger!"

  The notion that  'Islam is in danger!' is the foundation of Mujadidi ideology. The theological question it must answer is why, every century, the Muslims backslide or lose the favour of God- thus requiring a Mujaddid to turn up and found a dynasty. The answer really has to do with the manner in which what is spoken and believed ceases to be connected to God's  'kun' ('Be!)- it becomes empty, it loses its vital force. 
In a sense, this was good news for Urdu, as a literary language,  but a huge loss was being simultaneously incurred viz. the notion that literature opened the gate to a truly languageless noesis outside of Time. The result is a hypertrophy of literary activity without a corresponding widening of its range of signification. Ghalib's solution was to permit the pullulation of incompossible ontologies on the same literary topos, but his- like Solomon's- was a treasure that could never befall another. Why? Well, something happened to Time in the Nineteenth Century. For Ibn Arabi and Nund Reshi and Sachal and so on there was no problem with embracing a type of 'kshanika vada' (doctrine of momentariness) but for the post Mutiny Mujadidi milieu, Time had acquired a special ontological value it had not had since the Zurvan heresy. There is a story about Iqbal quoting the hadith 'do not vilify Time' to the great delight of Bergson. But Iqbal was spatializing Time- turning it into a battleground where a resurgent Islam would reassert itself- with results tragic and hilarious in equal measure.
It is no wonder that the Iranian Supreme Guide loves Iqbal. I wonder if he is aware that Iqbal grants the Babi heoine Qurratul Ayn (Tahira)  a place with Ghalib and Mansoor al Hallj at the station of Jupiter?
It is curious company for Ghalib. Okay, maybe Hallaj displayed what he should have veiled and Tahira's unveiling at  Badasht caused one of those present to cut his own throat and run gibbering from the garden- but, for Ghalib, I think the real pay-off would have been the fact that Tahira was strangled with her own veil and dropped down a well- a circumstance that would have provided many conversational openings and prompted much warm reflection.

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