The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality
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The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality

Chapter 31

Goethe


By Khurram Ali Shafique

The second enclave is The Message of the East. It appeared in 1923 and was substantially expanded a year later.
The atmosphere changes quickly.

reviously you saw that the Garden was interwoven with the meanings of the Quran and represented the life of the Muslim nation. Here, in the welcome note itself, Iqbal introduces a Western poet and thinker Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) as a role model.

Goethe

It is Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The French conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte is ravaging Europe, Africa and India. Living in the duchy of Weimer in his native Germany, Goethe has remained remarkably untouched despite his admiration for the genius of Napoleon.

Goethe’s many influences have included Persian literature. Germany is in bad shape and Goethe is in his old age but the music of Hafez of Shiraz arouses in his imagination a mighty storm. Still, he is not an imitator of any Persian poet and his glance rests only on those Oriental truths which his Western temperament can assimilate. He names a book of his poems the West-Eastern Divan and at the beginning of the next century it book falls in to the hand of an Indian who has felt similar association with Hafez and also knows the German language. He is Iqbal.

One hundred years after Goethe, Iqbal writes back to him and names his book The Message of the East. This is where you are.

Iqbal informs you, “The internal unrest of the world’s nations, which we cannot assess properly because of being ourselves affected by it, is the fore-runner of a great spiritual and cultural revolution.”

Excerpt from the Preface

Europe’s Great War was a catastrophe which destroyed the old world order in almost every respect and now out of the ashes of civilization and culture, Nature is building up in the depths of life a new human being and a new world for them to live in, of which we get a faint sketch in the writings of Einstein and Bergson. It is, however, a pity that Europe’s perspicacious, but conservative, statesmen have failed to make a proper assessment of that wonderful revolution which is now taking place in the human mind.

DISCUSS

  • Are there any signs that there is an internal unrest in the Garden at this point in your journey just as there was in Iqbal’s world in 1923?

  • In what ways is Joseph connected with the new type of human being anticipated in this preface?

  • How may it change the meanings of the five clues you have about him – Rumi and Iqbal, kings, Joseph, Sufis and Time?

  • Are you the new type of human being anticipated in this preface?


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With reference to the German “Thinker of Life” Goethe, the reader is informed about the impending rise of a new type of human being, which is the reader themselves.
Click to see Persian translation of complete passage