Allama Iqbal developed a very important notion in “Asrar e Khudi”, that the free man is the creator of his own destiny and he does it by mastering the secret of time. This idea of the inner relation of destiny and time was worked out by Iqbal both in his poetry and philosophical prose in clear terms. Out of the many possible ways of reflecting about the universe, there are two ways which are found recurrent in the history of human thought. One is the dualistic way which bifurcates the universe in terms of matter and life or matter and mind and refuses to relate them casually or in terms of destiny. The other way is to think in unitary terms and to connect them in terms of either matter or mind. This unitary approach may be either static or dynamic. The best examples of the former are systems of Spinoza in the western philosophy and Samkra in the Indian. The dynamic approach discovers movements and process in whatever happens in nature and tries to close the gap between matter and life, life and consciousness in terms of process and upward movement.

There is always implied a reference to destiny or trend in all such dynamic approaches. A strictly logical-intellectual approach implies a tendency to disregard any reference to the notion of destiny and finds a key to understanding of the events in terms of causality. It is on this account that materialistic attitude prefers a strict causal scheme in which the past events determine their present occurrence. This scheme works well as long as one is concerned merely with physical events but it breaks down when the problem of self is raised. This notion of self involves some sort of reference to the concept of destiny and time. Intellect, when it moves in logical categories comprehends events only in causal sequence. Allama Iqbal uses familiar Persian symbol “zunnar posh” (girdle wearer) for the intellect as it’s always imprisoned in serial time. Iqbal realises the gap between self and nature and tensions caused by this gap and tries to resolve it. He believes that both have relevance in their particular spheres but none is complete in itself.

Iqbal’s poetic solution, which is the basis of his philosophical speculation, regards self as prior and yet does not reduce nature into self as an intellectual or perceptional error (the idealistic and berkeleyian solutions) but regards it as selves of lower order or a collection of lower or higher orders of reality. He says “self awareness includes awareness of world of nature and life, intellectual awareness is of a different order in which life is understood as a function of matter or as a lower order of mentality. Intellect looks at life as repetitive and imprisoned in the net of causal sequence”. Intellect in its attempt to understand the world and self gives rise to the notion of serial time, time as earlier and later, in which scheme the law of uniformity prevails and the “morrow” appears as a repetition of to-day and to-day as mere sequence of yesterday, as Spengler suggests “the category of causality overshadows the principal destiny”.

In the traditional thought and poetry of the east the words timeless and changeless have been considered identical in their meaning but Iqbal makes a subtle distinction between them. To be changeless is to be lifeless and not to be timeless in the higher sense, where to be timeless means to be beyond the net of causal sequence. Real timelessness is the “enjoyment of pure duration, non-successional change, which is the essence of life. To be changeless is to go down in the scale of existence and is to be identical with lifeless and is to become completely inert matter- the lowest possible form of life. He aptly puts it in another place as:

“damadam nash haye taaza rezad;

bayak soorat qarar zindagi neest,

Agar imroz e tau tasweer e dos ast;

bakhak e tau sharar e zindagi neest”

(Each breath new images are cast, not in one form finds life stability; if your today reflects your yesterday, there can be no vital spark in your dusty stature).

Self-awareness reveals the highest order or reality which is life itself, in it’s abundance, fullness and creative glory. The realization of the principle of life is the realization of divine majesty. Life itself is the creator of the ‘other’. It creates and does not feel weary in the midst of the world of others; instead it goes on creating more such ‘others’ because in this creation is revealed the infinite possibilities of life.

Man thinks that life is a riddle but in the yearning for upward flight, its creative longing for higher stations, the riddle of life is solved. Iqbal agrees with whitehead that nature is a creative advance. Death plays a significant role in this fascinating drama of life, it proves not the mere perishability of phenomena but the incompletion of existence and the restlessness of life to seek higher worlds of experience. It is, as if the untiring artist unceasingly draws a painting, never satisfied with his previous sketch because the infinite possibilities contained in destiny can never be completely unfolded. The traditional idea was that the death pursues life and defeats its purpose. Death does not exhaust the infinite creative possibilities of life and its creative power.

These creative and destructive aspects of time are not really two distinct phases of time; they are the necessary moments of the creative activity of life. In it’s march forward, the caravan of life does not only leave the dust behind but it also demolishes the old forms to be replaced by newer and better forms. The destructiveness of time has been far more emphasized in the traditional poetry, as if time is nothing but the agent of death. Iqbal does not ignore this aspect of time but looks at it as a necessary condition for its creativity. The destructive aspect of time gives rise to human tragedy. He agrees with Alexander on the point that “the restless movement of time is not a mere turning of a squirrel in its cage but the nisus towards a higher birth and the poem ‘melody of time’ (Naway e Waqt) in Payam e Mashriq beautifully sums it up.

The central idea of the poem is “time as destiny”. Time, in this poem, to use Spengler’s words is “no more a riddle, a notion, a form or dimension but becomes an inner certainty, destiny in itself”. The choice of words and the metre present a picture of time in which it appears as living, pulsating with life, historical and cosmic time appear as two aspects of one reality. It’s the highest poetic vision, when man ceases to think but looks inwardly that the true nature of time is revealed. He writes in ‘the melody of time’:

“khursheed ba damanam, anjum ba

girebanam; Dar man nigri hecham;

dar khud nigri janam,

Dar shehar o bayabanam,

dar kaakh o shabistanam; man dardum o darmanam, man aesh e farawanam,

Man tegh e jahan sozam ;

man chashma e haiwanam”

(the sun is in my lap, the stars are in my pocket, if you look at me, I am nothing but if you see in the depth of yourself, I am life. I am in the towns and the deserts; I am in the castles and the bed chambers).

In reality, there are not different sources of endurance. The source is one and that is authenticity which is achieved by an ego who conquers the serial time and he crafts his destiny by virtue of it. The authentic ego conquers destiny and thus realizes endurance. Allama Iqbal would have agreed with Heidegger that “destiny is a mode of authentic existence and that everyone does not have a destiny”. It is in this mode, as Heidegger points out that present itself is elevated from fallenness to an authentic present. To have a destiny, is for Iqbal, to conquer death but the conquest of death is not possible by evading it and getting lost in world but by raising beyond the threshold of present and performing deeds which leave their imprint on the “desert of time”.