Ahmed Afzaal

What Determines Learning Capacity?

The insight and understanding that a reader can acquire from a particular book, especially a challenging one—such as the Reconstruction—will depend upon the reader’s “learning capacity,” which, in turn, is determined by three main factors.

The first factor that determines your learning capacity is your prior knowledge, i.e., everything (including facts, opinions, memories, attitudes, beliefs, etc.) that already exist in your mind. Your mind, after all, is not a blank slates; it is filled with all kinds of data that inevitably affect the quality of your engagement with what you’re reading.

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Reconstruction (2)

Let’s begin with a little historical background. This will set the context in which The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam came to be written.

The story of the Reconstruction began when Iqbal presented a paper, titled “Ijtihad in Islam,” at Islamia College, Lahore (now called Government Islamia College, Railway Road). Iqbal presented this paper on December 13, 1924, at 6:30 PM, in the famous Habibia Hall. The session was chaired by Shaikh Abdul Qadir, Iqbal’s close friend and president of Anjuman-e Himayat-e Islam. Apparently a few ‘ulama did not approve of what Iqbal said on the topic of ijtihad (or, more accurately, they did not approve of what he was reported to have said). Iqbal subsequently cited that incident in a letter: “I had written an English essay on Ijtihad, which was read in a meeting here… but some people called me a Kafir.… In these days in India, one must move with very great circumspection.”

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Reconstruction (1)

This is the first post in what I hope would become a series of reflections on Muhammad Iqbal’s major philosophical work, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930). I plan to structure these reflections around ideas emerging from discussions in an online class I happened to be currently teaching.

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