Over Reliance on God? Nietzsche rescued by Iqbal

Over Reliance on God? Nietzsche rescued by Iqbal


There is a common question that crops up in the mind of theists at some point in their conscious experience. Is there such a thing as over-reliance on God?

Theists believe in God for sustenance. God is not only the creator but the sustainer of all that exists, but is there a line which God himself does not want anyone to cross? Not the line of belief but the line of dependence.

Many of my friends would point out that when it comes to contentment of heart, there is no such thing as over reliance on god, but there is such a thing as over-reliance on material means.   Ask a whirling dervish and he will concur.

Inner mysticism leads to peace and contentment but comes at the price of severing ties with the physical realm. Inner mysticism may fulfill a man heart but what about his potential?  Is his capacity for humanity realized? If inner mysticism alleviates our needs but at the same time curbs our ambition,  than what is at the other end of the spectrum?

Enter Fredrick Nietzsche with his parable of the mad man.

“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him”.

In Nietzsche’s paradigm, God was eliminated and thus settled not just the question of over reliance on God but annihilated “reliance” itself. The void of God was too huge to fill and thus out of his ashes arose a figure. A figure not just of an ordinary man, but the Übermensch, the superman.  The man with destiny in his hands and his hands alone.

Nietzsche left the world without experiencing the aftermath of his strong but disastrous influence in the 20th century.  He died in anguish, with concerns that the elimination of God also entails elimination of hope which only leaves a pitiful world in its wake.  Ambition alone without any hope, a burden too heavy for humanity to carry. With Nietzsche’s earnest effort in philosophy though, the other end of the spectrum was revealed.

In the quest for answering the question of over reliance, the sway from whirling dervish to the Ubermensch, encompasses the extent human capacity.

Where next in this journey of alleviation and attainment of desire and nirvana? Drifting and drowning in this eternal sea of space and time, clutching on straws was humanity.

Cometh the hour cometh the man.  A life line thrown as strong as “The self” and the rescuer Mohammad Iqbal.

Raise your “self” so that before every decree

God ascertains from you: “What is your wish?”

It was Muhammad Iqbal’s philosophy of “The self” that raised the human to his will and beyond, but never un-moored it from the creator.  For it’s the chain to God that is the strength of the human. The self that just doesn’t limit one’s potential to that of man or a superman but releases the potential of God.

Although Iqbal was a contemporary of Nietzsche, but his philosophy of the self was not inspired or influenced by the “Übermensch”. Iqbal refuted this claim himself.

When Iqbal was asked about the origin of his philosophy, he mentioned it was in fact a verse of the Quran.

Surah Hasher verse 19 to be specific, which translates:

“And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient”.

Iqbal not only has a huge influence in the east but also left his mark on the renaissance of philosophical thought in Germany in the last century.

As noted earlier,  Iqbal’s Self was different to Umbermensh. Where Nietzsche’s superman operated beyond constrains through the power of will, it also loosened the certainties of morals. Iqbal’s Self however was a higher being which soared like a hawk but underneath the skies, aiming for the heavens.

On revisiting the question of over reliance, does one have to graze the philosophical planes for an answer?  As much as our understanding is increased by philosophy, shouldn’t  a  message that is universal  be concise and easily understood?

Thus comes forth the notion “God helps those who help themselves”. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad (P.B.U.H) explained the message with simplicity.

One day Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it.

He asked the Bedouin – Why don’t you tie down your camel?

The Bedouin answered – I put my trust in Allah.

The Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon him) then said – Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah

P.s. It is also worth noting that Iqbal was once asked about Nietzsche and he made the same comment  that Prophet Muhammad (P.b.u.h) said of  Umayyah bint Abi-sait (An Arab poet)   “His mind is disbeliever but his heart is a believer”

Also worth Reading:

Iqbal and Nietzsche: Perfect man versus Superman ; Bilquees Dar R.