Reaching Beyond the Stars

[] Allama Iqbal has described a transforming moment in his youth as the advice given to him by his father. When his father passed by Iqbal reading the Quran, he told him to read it as if it was being revealed to him. Let us follow this advice for a bit, and see where it leads us. Let us start with the Quran 5:32 —  if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.

If anyone saves my life, it is as if he has save the life of all mankind – My life is very precious! But why? To me, I appear to be an ordinary person much like many others. What makes me so special that Allah T’aala, the Creator of the Universe, who Knows everything hidden and apparent, considers saving my life as being equivalent to saving the life of the seven billion people on the planet?  After pondering this question for a long time, I came to the conclusion that it is not the current reality, but the potential within me that is precious to Allah. Just like Allah T’aala has placed within every seed the incredible potential to become a tree, so He has placed within me, and within every human being, enormous potential of unique value, incomparable to anyone else in history. If I can realize this potential, I can be worth more than seven billion lives which fail to realize this potential.

So how can I realize this potential for excellence buried within my soul? The Quran 53:39 tell us “That man can have nothing but what he strives for”. So the very first step is to make the INTENTION to reach beyond the stars. Today, the ambitions of people are limited to small personal goals, and hence, they can only achieve small things. As Allama Iqbal has said (Bang-e-Dra 116)


It was your own ignorant self who was satisfied with a few flower petals, When the Garden contained plenitude beyond your imagination.

So what are the high goals that we need to set for ourselves, so that our lives become infinitely precious, instead being a meaningless repetition of routine chores? The perfect model has been given to us in the form of our Prophet Mohammad SAW. Some elements of his revolutionary teachings which changed the course of history are summarized in my post on “The Prophet as our guide for revolutionary change” . As Iqbal has said, we can reach beyond the stars, if we set ourselves high enough goals. (Bal-e-Jibreel 60)


There are worlds beyond the stars, and many more test of your Love

It is the Love of Allah which drives us to achievements beyond our imagination. As our Prophet SAW demonstrated, the Message has the power to change the course of history, and affect the lives of billions across the centuries. We are the bearers of this immensely powerful Last Message of God, and have been given the unique opportunity and responsibility to spread it to all of humanity. (For more on love of Allah, see my Farewell to IIIE Students.)

But there are many obstacles on the path to developing the potential within us. Many enemies lie in wait for us, seeking to trap us, and to prevent us from reaching our goals. The first obstacle is not just ignorance, but a double ignorance, creating by learning the wrong lessons. Curing it requires first unlearning, and then relearning: see Unlearning Jahilliyah, and Re-Learning Islam). As Iqbal puts it in (Bal-e-Jibril-015L Wohi Meri Kam Naseebi): The deceived eaglet, brought up by crows, cannot know of the soaring flight of the eagles.


The crows eat dead meat, meaning that they are attracted to coarse earthly material. We must unlearn our love of materials, and learn to love Allah, and His Messenger, and His Message above all other things. It is only the love of higher things which allows our spirit to soar like the eagles. Allah T’aala describes the first obstacle that will arise when we try to abandon the love of the world, and instead focus on higher spiritual goals: Quran 2:268 Shaitan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to be miserly, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.

Surely if I stop struggling and striving for material wealth and worldly comforts, I will become poor? This is a suggestion/hint from the Shaitan, means to scare us from following the high path, just like he tempted our ancestors into taking the fruit from the forbidden tree. Allah T’aala tells us not to fear the Shaitan, and instead trust in Allah to grant us forgiveness and abundance (instead of poverty). Allah T’aala re-inforces this message (Quran 65:2,3)  And unto everyone who is conscious of God, He [always] grants a way out [of unhappiness], and provides for him in a manner beyond all expectation; and for everyone who places his trust in God, He [alone] is enough.

Isn’t that a fantastic promise? Allah T’aala promises to give us what we cannot imagine, and be sufficient for all our needs, if we just trust in Him. Going back to the start of this article, imagine Allah T’aala is saying this directly and personally to me. Are we ready to respond to His call, challenging us to reach for goals beyond the stars, and put everything we have into achieving them? He has promised that we have been given the potential to do so, and our life has been created more precious than the entire planet full of humans! (Quran 90:10) He has shown us the two highways, and left the choice up to us.

Postscript: Another post, conveying the message of Iqbal to youth, is: The Ways of Eagles . See also, 7min Urdu Speech on The Power of the Quran



This entry was posted in Islam - Invitation by Asad Zaman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Asad Zaman

BS Math MIT (1974), Ph.D. Econ Stanford (1978)] has taught at leading universities like Columbia, U. Penn., Johns Hopkins and Cal. Tech. Currently he is Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. His textbook Statistical Foundations of Econometric Techniques (Academic Press, NY, 1996) is widely used in advanced graduate courses. His research on Islamic economics is widely cited, and has been highly influential in shaping the field. His publications in top ranked journals like Annals of Statistics, Journal of Econometrics, Econometric Theory, Journal of Labor Economics, etc. have more than a thousand citations as per Google Scholar.

20 thoughts on “Reaching Beyond the Stars

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  5. Respected sir Asad.I read almost all of your post and indeed I am 100 percent agree with your thoughts and teaching.But I just want to know about HoW?????? What we have to do is clear but how we have to do is not clear.please guide.THANKS

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