Overcoming Nihilism Through Sufism: An Analysis of Iqbal’s Article on ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī

Journal of Islamic Studies 30 (1):69-96 (2019)

Feyzullah Yilmaz
Sabanci University
This paper attempts to rethink the philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal and challenge the still prevailing tendency in Iqbal scholarship to view it merely as an outcome of the influence of the ideas of various Western/European philosophers. I present Iqbal’s arguments in their particular historical and intellectual context to show that they developed in response to a specific philosophical problem and that Iqbal looked for a solution to that problem in Islamic tradition. I suggest that Iqbal’s philosophy is best understood in the context of, and as a response to, the problem of nihilism as it was debated in modern German philosophy during ‘the pantheism controversy’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To demonstrate this, I analyse Iqbal’s article on ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī to show his concern with the problem of nihilism, and his solution to it based on al-Jīlī’s Sufism.
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DOI 10.1093/jis/ety041
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