Dr. Muhammad Ajmal - By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed

 

Distinguished writer and a great patron of mystical psychology in Pakistan, Dr Muhammad Ajmal is no more with us. He served the nation as Federal Secretary of Education, Vice Chancellor University of the Punjab and Principal Government College, Lahore for many years.

Dr Ajmal was M A in philosophy and Ph.D in psychology. Apart from his contribution in the academic and social life of Lahore and Islamabad, he could be introduced as the founder of spiritual psychology in Pakistan.

He upheld the banner of an independent thinking and deep philosophical conceptions for quiet a long time.

His extraordinary approach towards human psychology made his name known in the intellectual world around him.

Dr Ajmal rendered his experiences and sensibility to the service of psycho-analysis and behavioral therapy in modern psychology.

His book on the subject of analytical psychology received compliments from the concerned intellectuals for the clarity of expression and the distinctness of style.

He wrote many thought-provoking articles both in Urdu and English languages. A book containing these articles have been published by ldara-e-Saqafat-e-Islamia, Lahore under the title of Maqalat-e-Ajmal.

Dr Ajmal was great admirer of theory of collective unconsciousness propounded by C. J. Jung. His love for the knowledge gathered by Martin Lings, a spiritual Muslim orientalist, was an open secret. He proved that general psychology and spiritual psychology are closely related to each other. In 1968, he published his remarkable theoretical article namely 'An introduction to Muslim tradition in psychotherapy.'

Dr Azhar Alt Rizvi, former head of psychology department G. C Lahore says, "Dr Ajmal's name in Pakistan is extremely significant with reference to research in Muslim psychology. National Institute of Psychology published his book 'Muslim contribution to psychotherapy.

Dr Ajmalís article meanings of prayer in Iqbal" published in Pakistan Times on November 9,1977 determines positive role of good in a society victimized by social and spiritual sickness.

Dr Ajmal indicated in his various articles that old Muslim thinkers delivered thoroughly the mentally ills from harms of disillusionment and hallucinations. They thought that the causes of mental illness could be searched in moral weakness rooted in the man under treatment.

Dr Ajmal also stressed on the rule proclaimed by Muslim psychologists 'Faithlessness generates immorality and immoral character acts as an animal.' He was of the opinion that mysticism could cure modern man who was a victim of mental diseases. In this connection he studied thoroughly the theories of Muslim philosophers such as Kindi, Razi, Farabi, Ave Sina, Ghazali, Ibn- e-Tufail, Suharwardi, Ibn- e- Rushd, Ibn- e- Arabi, Rumi, Al Jeli, Sadr ud Din Sherazi, Shah Wali ulah, and Alama Muhammad Iqbal.

In Pakistan people like Hasan Askari, Ahmad Ali, Qudratulah Shahab and Dr Ajmal were working hard for the revival of Muslim knowledge. They knew well that the colonialists introduced a sense of alienation between the aspirations of people and their intellectual outlook with the help of their advanced and secular knowledge. On the other side they were convinced that the view of Islamic knowledge given by the majority of our "talented" Ulama did not comply with the needs of present-day society as it was completely rigid in nature.

They believed that the ideological confusion which was basic feature of our present-day life could lead to intellectual chaos and split in personalities.

For them survival of Muslims as a solid nation would only be possible if it will be impregnated with certain dimensions of speculations and psychological unity and they were convinced that Muslim thought like Muslim philosophy has remained inert for many centuries. As Khalifa Abdul Hakim Puts it, 'With the awakening and independence of Muslim nations new life has to be put into their intellectual and spiritual heritage. As once Muslim intellectual development gave a fillip to the European Renaissance after many centuries of darkness, so now Western intellectual and cultural achievements of the last two centuries must be accepted with critical discrimination, but open-hearted appreciation for resuscitating dormant Muslim life. May be Islam shall again play a mighty role in alliance with new knowledge as it did once by fraternizing with Hellenistic thought. Muslims now for a long time have been philosophically inactive. In the realm of philosophy they have now a twofold task before them. The first is to gather the intellectual and spiritual heritage left by their philosophers, poets mystics, literary geniuses and even by some theologians who attempted to substantiate their beliefs and dogmas by reasoning.'

Knowing all these facts Dr Ajmal knocked at the door of modern knowledge. He studied the works of George Frazer, Eric Fromm, William James, C.G Jung, Hussain Nasr, Alferd Adler, Max Ernst, Susan K Langer, Michel Foucalt, Sigmund Freud, Roger Fry, Johann Kepler, Rene Guenon, and many other.

He wanted to evolve a new generation of Islamically oriented intellectuals in Pakistan. So he raised voice to warn of the threat of cultural as well as social guidelines by alien systems and doctrines. Joining hands with many other he questioned the invasion and apparently pervasive postures of the West in the cultural fields. He expressed at places his precious opinion that clerics were unable to provide the positive charisma and reinterpretation of old outlook needed in modern society. Due to his faith in the true awareness he acquired modern as well as traditional knowledge.

In the last years of his life he joined editorial board of Vision a quarterly periodical of Iqbal Shariati Foundation. The chairman of the foundation claims

'Too often Western systems and pre-suppositions were adopted uncritically by modern elite regardless of their appropriateness. They were unable to render change with some continuity with the past. Both the traditional and the modern elite failed to provide a new syntheses capable of supplying continuity in the midst of modern change. This crisis of identity was positively and creatively responded to by Jamal-ud-Din Afghani (Al-Afghani) and Dr Muhammad Iqbal. They were followed by Hassan-al-Banna and Rashid Rida, and others like Hassan Turabi, Sadiq-al-Mehdi, Taleqani and Dr. Ali Shariati. Shariati was a creative thinker whose thought stood in sharp contrast to the traditional religious interpretations of many of the Ulama, as also to the Westernized secular outlook of many university professors and intellectuals. Reflecting the influence of Al-Afghani and Iqbal, he emphasized the dynamic progressive and scientific nature of Islam to revitalize the Muslim community by a thoroughgoing reinterpretation of Islam. Shariati maintained that he was reclaiming the original, true, revolutionary message of Islam. Shariati preached a theology of liberation, which combined a reinterpretation of Islamic belief with modern socio-political thought.

Dr Ajmal identified these problems as his brilliant predecessor Allama Iqbal did 'with the sense of cultural and societal crises and the realization of man's authentic identity.'

Iqbal envisioned a system in which science and religion were to find out joint harmonies. Dr Ali Shariati, a great scholar from modern Iran, unfolded Iqbal's poetic and introspective thought in the perspective of modern sciences.

He expressed his thought in his theoretical books and asked Muslim societies to go back to their roots, a way which could bring current of progress into motion.

Shariati says, today 'the intelligentsia have premised the role which prophets played in the olden times. As scholars assume a significant role in every society, they give direction and provide guidance to the people living in their societies. He parts the thinkers in two distinct groups, the academicians and the "enlightened thinkers." Academicians simply utilize their conventional or pragmatic know-how. Enlightened thinkers with their sense of social commitment, play the role of social prophets.

Visualizing the path taken by Shariati Dr Ajmal, as an enlightened thinker maintained that the world was watching the beginning of a new period. Even the finality about scientific realities was facing fresh challenges. The school of thought of the literate of tomorrow, as opposed to the intellectuals of today, will be a religious school of thought.

Dr Ajmal knew that a new surge of human thought was emerging, which could attain success in a few years. All that Dr Ajmal attempted to point out was that though convictions on these points had been given in fairly large numbers we could improve upon the situation by trying to generate new situational opinions on these points.

Dr Ajmal's writings having mystical tones will be read seriously by every section of Literati in Pakistan. His death is, indeed, a major loss to the already exhausted intellectual and cultural life of our country.